Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I purchased the pants at the thrift store, used webbing that I had intended on using to make belts for the kids (which is a stupid idea. Kids don't need belts, they need elastic especially when they are potty training!), and Sadie's bag got backed with a Japanese Kawaii print that I got on etsy. The kids filled their bags with very useful things that one would need on a hike: their water bottle, a bug catcher, a magnifying glass, a journal, a camera, a net, and a Cinderella figurine. Very easy. Very useful. Very fun!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The Adventures of Herman the Worm
Composting with worms
Monday, April 27, 2009
You will need:
- wax crayon (or a white crayon)
- water color paint
While the kids napped, I wrote a secret message to each of them using the wax crayon (going over each letter several times assures a clear message). Then, I set up the table so they would find it when they woke up. I told them that I had written them a secret message and that they needed to paint over it to see what it said.The messages were quite simple, and actually a picture may have been better since neither of them can read. But, they liked revealing the message either way.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Here's the story: I was shopping at my local World Market and they had the Casabella microfiber kitchen towels on super-duper clearance. So, I bought one thinking they were still a little more than I wanted to spend on a dish towel, not to mention that I already have a closet full of them, and I've had other microfiber towels, but just wasn't that impressed with them. Well, let me tell you, I tried it out and it picked up every drop of every spill, wiped dry each of my dishes even the last one, and just felt so soft that I went back to World Market the next day and bought up every last one of them. Now, you won't see me in my kitchen without one of those babies tossed over my shoulder. I think I would even pay full price for them. They're just that awesome.
Cut to two months later, I was again at World Market (you gotta love that place!) and they had the microfiber glass cloth and the microfiber dusting cloth on sale so I bought both of those. The glass cloth is amazing. I don't even have to use any cleaners, I just dampen a corner and wipe the glass and they're clean WITHOUT STREAKS, my glass cleaner can't even do that. And the dust cloth, well, it picks up just about every speck of dust in this house. It's just that good.
Casabella also sells floor-dusters with washable heads that I'm tempted to buy. Man, you just got to love a company that makes you feel so good about cleaning your house! So, there you have it. As you can see, I need to get out more so I can tell you about amazing music, or shoes or... anything but cleaning products.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Simon and Garfunkels Only Living Boy in New York was my song of the summer 1996. I was living with my BFF in a cool old down-town apartment in the town where we attended school. I was working at Target, but barely. I didn't have any money and I lived off of popcorn, beer and clove cigarettes. I had nothing to do most days "but smile" and I would sing "the only living girl in Grand Forks." (clever, right!?! ha, ha) I checked the weather and decided what to do from that: go to the pool, head to the coffee shop to read, go for a bike ride, etc. The reason I bring this up is because lately I've been singing "I get the news I need from the weather report" because with kids my big question for the day is: can we go outside or not? The weather report determines our entire day. Will today be an indoor game playing, movie watching, picture coloring sort of a day or a run outside, play in the dirt, go to the park sort of a day? Today is a pouring rain, ride the bus to dad's work and eat lunch in the cafeteria kind of day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a sunshiney, sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flop wearing kind of a day. But, it's spring, the weather is unpredictable and I need to just go with the flow. After all, I have nothing to do today but smile (and take care of my kids)...
Friday, April 17, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Sadie and I decided to make egg-shaped necklaces for the up-coming holiday. I punched a hole at the top and we colored on our design using permanent markers. Here's a good idea of how they looked before they went into the 350 degree oven:And two minutes later we had (sort of) egg-shaped necklaces:
Man, I love this. I wish I had more plastic take-out containers. Note to self: go out to eat more!Go here for the complete instructions.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
- egg carton
- grass seed
- markers and scissors
1) Very carefully cut off the top of an egg. (Put the eggs aside to make omelets later.) With warm soapy water, gently clean out the eggs and allow to dry.2) Carefully, fill the eggs about 3/4 full with soil. Add the grass seed. Then cover with more soil.
3) Add water, then place in the sun and wait patiently for about a week, watering as needed. Once the grass has started to grow you should still wait a little longer until you have a good head of "hair".4) With a damp cloth, wash all dirt and debris from the egg. Draw a face.
5. Start to "trim" the "hair".6. After receiving their hair cuts. Put them back in the sun and allow their hair to grow back.
7. Repeat steps 5 &6.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Yes, I got a little carried away making little wood friends for my little wood children. But, it was well worth it as these little wood people were well initiated today. They were buried in the dirt, tossed for hopscotch, passed from one neighbor kid to the next and held in grubby, chocolate laced hands. This is a good lesson in attachment for me. I'm trying to let it all go, but I think I'll apply one more coat of varnish after scrubbing them clean!! Then, I'll feel better.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link this post to the person from whom you received your award.
Here are my nominees:
5 Orange Potatoes: An Ohio homeschooling mom inspires with her creative activities for her children.
'Tis a Good Life: A crafty Canadian mom who finds inspiration in the everyday.
Friday, March 6, 2009
I got a little long-winded just trying to tell you to check out your family's skin-care products at Skin Deep to see how they're ranked. It might just surprise you at how toxic your child's shampoo might be. (Darn that "fragrance"!)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
• Monday – Share this week’s Low-Carbon tips with a neighbor, coworker, or friend.
• Tuesday – Turn down your thermostat down by one degree.
• Wednesday – We are asked to give up meat on Friday’s during Lent. The average American diet contributes an extra 1.5 tons of greenhouse gases per year compared with a vegetarian diet.
Consider giving up meat an extra day this week.
• Thursday – Climate change isn’t a distant threat – it’s affecting poor communities now. Pray for those helping vulnerable communities adapt to the changing weather.
• Friday – Give your dishwasher a day off or promote it to an Energy Star rated appliance.
• Saturday – Unplug your mobile phone charger: it uses electricity even when it’s not charging.
Friday, February 27, 2009
1) Each week during Lent I will volunteer my services to an organization. Our church provides sign-up lists for opportunities to serve. Usually these are for working at the local shelter providing meals, building a Habitat for Humanity home, working at the St. Vincent De Paul, and the like. This week, I'm volunteering to help with the blood drive that is being held at my church.
2) Participating in Catholic Relief Services' Operation Rice Bowl that helps raise money to help fight global-poverty. CRS provides a calendar of events for each day of lent that helps raise awareness of poverty around the world. The calendar provides prayers, Bible study, opportunities to give, and introduces you to people from all over the globe who have benefited from Operation Rice Bowl along with fasting recipes from those countries.
3) The church bulletin is giving ideas for a "Low-Carbon Lent" in which they provide one "green" idea a day to help reduce our carbon footprint. This weeks ideas are:
• Ash Wednesday – Remove one light bulb (without inviting danger) and live without it for the next 40 days.
• Thursday – Check your door for drafts with a ribbon or feathers. If it flutters, buy (or make!) a draft stopper.
• Friday – Tread lightly – whether that’s by foot, by bike, on to a bus or the gas as you drive. Find a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when you travel today.
• Saturday – Are you recycling everything possible? Really –everything? Look into it today. Visit earth911.org to get started.
I'll keep you posted on my progress. Hopefully, this Lenten season will be a time for change for me.
Oh, and because Catholics are asked to abstain from eating meat and fasting on Fridays during lent, I thought I'd add some links to some of our favorite vegetarian meals:
- Curried Potato and Vegetable Soup: Seriously, this is an awesome soup. I serve it with rice. The first time I made this soup Dennis said, "I love this soup. It reminds me of Nepal." Hey, if my cooking can help bring back memories, then it must be good!
- Red Kidney Bean Curry: Seriously easy, seriously tasty!
- Lentil-Tomato Soup: An old stand-by at our house. Great for cold, wet days!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
This recipe calls for epazote, which I had never heard of before. It is an herb traditionally used in Mexican cooking. I borrowed some from my Mexican neighbor who said that it can be hard to find (especially fresh), but you can get epazote at Penzeys and Mexican markets. She also said that with such a small amount it would be ok to omit without making too much of a difference in the taste.
Cuban Black Beans and Rice from Penzey's One Volume 3, Issue 5, 2009
1 pound dried black beans (about 2 cups)
12 cups water, divided
2/3 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red)
4 cloves garlic, minded
1 whole bay leaf
1 T. dried Mexican Oregano
1 T. epazote
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 T. salt
2 T. sugar
2 T. red wine vinegar
3-4 cups cooked rice
corn tortillas (optional)
1. Rinse the beans well, discarding any debris or floaters. Put the beans and half of the water (6 cups) in a large stockpot and soak for at least 5 hours or overnight. Just before cooking, drain and rinse the beans. Place in a pot with the remaining water (6 cups).
2. Add the olive oil, wine, onion, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, epazote, cumin, pepper, salt and sugar to the pot. Place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered, for 45 minutes or until the beans are soft. Add the red wine vinegar and simmer, uncovered , to thicken the beans until ready to serve, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Optional: mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with a spoon.
3. Serve with rice, lime, cilantro and corn tortillas.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
- Making heart shaped lollipops from leftover candy canes at Skip to My Lou
- Making Flower Valentines at Skip to My Lou
- Making Butterfly Valentines also at Skip to My Lou (Eli has two parties!)
- Making Snail Valentines at Zakka Life
- Growing heart shaped crystals from Mom In Madison
- Valentine color container painting at Scrumdilly-Do
- Making purple kool-aid playdough with red glitter (This is the playdough recipe I have used since I started teaching, minus the kool-aid with food coloring added to the water. I cook it in the microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so until it is no longer wet and forms a ball. Add the glitter when it has finished cooking.)
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I think I'm going to be posting more recipes this year, which means less pictures, because I am not a food stylist and all of the pictures I take of food just make the food look unappetizing, which it isn't because if it was I wouldn't be posting about it here. Anyways, I have dubbed this year "the Year of the Casserole" as I am trying to find really easy, make ahead meals. So, not everything will be a casserole but it will be fast, or make ahead or a one-pot meal. I have checked out lots of books on the subject of casseroles--"hotdishes" as those who grew up in the north land call them, and I plan to make a lot of them, though I don't plan on using a single can of soup. I'll be posting lots of recipes or sending out to favorite food blogs for super-fast suppers.
Here's a couple to get you started:
Chicken and Rice Casserole This is a delicious, relatively quick recipe to put together. You can make it ahead of time, it doesn't call for any "exotic ingredients" and my kids ate it. Bonus!
Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew This recipe is absolutely delicious. It was way better than I anticipated. Though the ingredient list is long, this came together fast in ONE pot (plus the couscous pot, which doesn't count). It's a vegetarian meal, which we're trying to eat more of. The kids would not touch this. Rats!
And now the Orange Cranberry Muffins, as promised... I love these muffins and would eat them everyday if I wasn't so lazy to make them. Not that they're hard, I'm just lazy.
Orange Cranberry Muffins
2 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
zest from one orange
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups and edges.
2) Stir together: flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baling soda and salt. In another bowl mix together: buttermilk, oil, egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Add wet to dry. Stir until just combined. Add cranberries and nuts.
3) Spoon batter into cups. Bake 15-20 minutes.
4) Cool 5 minutes in pan before removing from pan.
Friday, January 30, 2009
If you haven't noticed, these "environmentally friendly" products are usually quite a bit more expensive than their Earth damaging counterparts. Making my own cleaning products is cost effective, environmentally friendly, and fun! I've been messing around with some different options for cleaning and here are a few things that I came up with: a dusting aid, a window cleaner, a multi-purpose and I still use my laundry soap. There isn't a homemade cleaner for the toilet, shower or a dish soap. That's because I tried the baking soda and vinegar thing in the toilet but found that I had to clean my toilet several times a week to keep the pink stuff from growing and I just don't like cleaning my toilet that often so I'm using Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner instead. I'm using Seventh Generation in the shower too, because when you use pure soap in the shower, it leaves one heck of a soap ring that is hardly dented by homemade stuff. I did give up my beloved Comet for straight up baking soda to scour with and I think that it works as well. As for dish soap, I tried to convince my husband that using Dr. Bronner's Castile soap cleaned the dishes just as well as the foamy soap, he just wasn't convinced so we compromised on Seventh Generation Dish Soap (I also love Trader Joe's Dish Soap because it smells yummy but the dishwasher (aka Dennis) thinks that it doesn't work as well). You would think that this is an advertisement for Seventh Generation. It isn't. I just use them because I can get it at most supermarkets and at Target and I've been pleased with the results. As for the floors, I just squirt a bit of Dr. Bronner's into warm water and scrub on my hands and knees. This is not an advertisement for Dr. Bronner's either. The guy may be a bit wacky (just read the the label), but his soap is pretty good!
I bought a few ingredients to get me started. Here are the ones that are the most helpful, some you probably already have in your kitchen:
- baking soda
- Arm and Hammer washing soda
- Murphy's Wood soap
- Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap
- essential oils: tea tree, sweet orange, lavender, and peppermint are a good assortment
I bought the spray bottles at the dollar store and made the labels myself by using (really fun)sticker paper. Have fun and let me know what you think!!
- 1/2 cup Murphy's Soap
- 3/4 cup water
- 5 drops orange essential oil
- 15 drops cedar essential oil
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp. castile soap
- 8 drops essential oil
- 1/4 tsp. washing soda
- 1/2 tsp. castile soap
- 2 cups water
- 10 drops essential oil
Monday, January 26, 2009
You will need:
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup cornstarch
4 cups cold water
red/blue/yellow food coloring
pot and stove
1) Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a pot. Heat until the mixture begins to thicken (about when it starts to boil), stirring constantly. Cool.
2) Divide the mixture into the three bowls. Add food coloring to mixture so you have one red, one blue and one yellow.
3) Put several tablespoons full of each color into a zipper bag so you have the following combinations: red/yellow, yellow/blue, red/blue, and red/blue yellow. Tape the bag closed.
4) Knead and mix the colors.5) Talk about the new colors you made.When you are finished mixing the colors, use your goo filled bag as a writing tablet for practicing those letters or just for scribbling!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
In honor of Inauguration day, I made myself a little Obama Icon. You can make one for yourself over at Obamiconme. Thanks for the tip, Meves!