Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's been a long time

Hi guys!
I've been MIA for a lonnnnggg time!  I'm hoping to get back on the ball.  If you're a blogger, you know how time intensive it can be to think of new ideas, take pictures or videos, editing, posting, etc. etc. etc.  We got really busy for awhile but things are slowing down (at least temporally) so I'm hoping to get back to business.  :D

So in the past few weeks I've been told by my doctor that it would be a good idea for me to go gluten and dairy free.  So I'll try to bring you along that journey with me.  I'm not so bummed about giving up dairy: I don't eat or drink too much of it anyhow - but I AM bummed out about giving up gluten.  *sigh*  More on this subject later....

I'm also going to try to do some videos and pictures about cloth diapering.  I've had a couple friends ask questions about it, so I figure I'd do a little something about the subject here. 

Wish me luck as I enter the world of video taping and editing!  This will be an exciting new venture!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Girls Night In

Happy Sunday!  I wanted to drop by and share a couple pictures I took from a recent "girls night in" gathering we had at our friend's house.  We spent the evening hanging out and making coasters after eating a yummy dinner!    It was a great toddler-free evening just with the girls. 

The girls making coasters!
I made coasters for our room since we usually keep a glass of water besides our bed.  The Hub's coaster matches our room, but mine totally doesn't.  :D  This is a great, inexpensive gift idea!

All you need is:
-  Tiles
-  Scrapbook Paper
-  Cork (we bought the rolled up sheet)
-  Mod Podge
-  Glue gun
-  Scissors
-  Paintbrush
-  Polycrylic

1.  Trace or measure the scrapbook paper to fit your tile. 
2.  Spread mod podge onto the tile and lay your scrapbook paper onto it being careful to smooth out bubbles.
 3.  Trace or measure cork so that it's slightly smaller than your tile. 
4.  Use your hot glue gun to spread glue to the back of your tile.  Carefully lay your cork onto the tile.
 5.  Apply about three coats of mod podge onto the scrapbook paper, letting it dry between each coat. 
6. Apply two-three coats Polycrylic to help further seal the paper on the tiles.

Hope you enjoyed!  I think Mod Podge might possibly be the best invention ever!

What else can I put Mod Podge on?  Have an idea?  Put a link to your blog below!

Enjoy this post?  Here are some other crafts you might like!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Water Fun!

The weather has been crazy these past couple of weeks.   Just last week we had thunder and rain, and today it was very warm and nice out!  We took advantage of the beautiful weather and went outside to play with the water!

I love how he looks so serious when he's playing! :D

We brought out the dish-washing pan, a measuring cup, a little watering can, and a little sand sifter for Little Man to play in the water.  He found a rock and added it to the water, too. 

I added an ice cube I colored blue with food coloring to the water.  He had a blast trying to pick it up out of the water because it was slippery.  He watched while it melted away. 

He had soo much fun he cried when we had to back inside the house for dinner.  He was easily consoled with a plate of warm spaghetti. 

I think we'll bring out the kiddy pool soon. :D

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Homemade Marshmallows

For one of our Easter Treats I made homemade marshmallows!  I know Easter has come and gone, but these are something you can do for any holiday.  You can add different flavored extracts to them, or food coloring, or use themed cookie cutters.

Not a very good picture.  This was all that was left of them!

I chose to do mine in the traditional vanilla flavoring and used mini Easter themed cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.  I then dipped them into milk chocolate. 

Ingredients: Gelatin, vanilla, light corn syrup, sugar, nonstick spray, chocolate (optional)

You can get the full recipe here.  Please read it for instructions.  I just wanted to share my tips while making these.

1. The Marshmallows set very fast.  Be prepared to work very quickly.  I felt like I was going at a fairly fast pace and mine were still bumpy. 

2.  Use a smaller pan
.  When spreading your marshmallows onto the cookie sheet, I'd use a smaller size than recommended.  I didn't even get my marshmallows all spread out on the pan (because they dried too fast) and I felt they were too thin.  I'm almost wondering if two 8x8 pan would work best. 

3.  They need to dry 24 hours.  The recipe says you can cut them starting at about 3 hours, but I really feel they need to stay out overnight. 

4.  I didn't have any problems with coating them in chocolate.  I let mine sit in the pan for 24 hours before I cut them.  This probably helped them stand up to the hot chocolate. 

5.  Easy with the cooking spray.  This mostly applies to spraying your cookie cutters.  I felt like I kept putting too much spray on them (gross!). I finally ditched the cooking spray and just wiggled the cookie cutter back and forth and it worked just fine.

I really look forward to making these again.  This was the first time I have really done any candy making.  I definitely plan on making some peppermint flavored marshmallows for Christmas! 

If you like Marshmallows you might like these!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nursery Rhymes

 I haven't read or sang any nursery rhymes since I was a little kid.  Needless to say, I've forgotten a lot of the lyrics and stories.  I've done an okay job by making up forgotten lyrics or just humming the rest of the song, but think I should try to learn them right.

I only picked out a couple books from the library this week because each of the books should have a lot of stories.

Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky

Hey Diddle Diddle and other Mother Goose Rhymes by Tomie Debaola

Lamb Coloring Page - color or glue cotton balls to it.  "Sing Mary had a little Lamb"
Hey Diddle Diddle Coloring page - Talk about the animals and what they are doing

Edible Playdough (If you have a recipe, put a link in my comment section below, I'd love to try it)

Jack "Jump" Over the "candle stick" - I'll lay a jump rope or string across the ground.  We'll walk or jump from one side to the other (he's  not much of a hopper yet hehe)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Monday

  I haven't posted in awhile do to some scheduling changes in our week and getting ready for Easter.  It's amazing how adding something different or changing your routine can completely throw off your week until you get back in the flow of things.  Here's to next week and being more productive! :D

We had a great Easter weekend!  Saturday The Hubs and I took Little Man to an Easter Egg hunt at our local park.  Little Man was a little overwhelmed with all the people, but he still had a great time finding Easter Eggs.

See..I told you there were a lot of people!
Aren't they cute with matching shirts?
For Easter Sunday we had some of our friends over to celebrate.  Tabitha and her family came over, as well as our friend Amanda.  Little Man and his Little Buddy had a great time "hunting" (or sitting on the grass eating the candy out of the eggs!) for Easter Eggs in the front yard before brunch.

I wish I had taken pictures of Little Man's Easter basket.  I had a blast putting it together.  I even made him homemade chocolate covered marshmallows!  By the time I thought about it Little Man had already ripped through the basket.  I suppose I could put it back together for a picture, but that would require effort ;) 

Hope all of you had a great Easter!  I'm looking forward to this week!  I'm working on a new lesson plan, we're having a girls day in where we're going to work on a crafty project, and I'll share how I made homemade marshmallows.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Jillian Michael's Fudge Brownies

I'm a sucker for anything chocolate and I love me some brownies!  I decided to try Jillian Michael's Fudge Brownies. 

You can find her recipe here if you'd like to try it, too. 

These brownies were good, but not the best "healthy" brownies out there.  My favorite "healthy" brownies are the Double Chocolate Walnut Brownies from Elana's Pantry

While Jillian Micheal's brownies are good, the honey flavor in it is definitely very noticeable in the finished brownie.  I even used a clover honey like she recommend in her recipe.  I like really chocolatey brownies, and these didn't quite hit that mark. 

A couple of positives: they were really moist (which I love) and the ingredients call for items you probably have on hand.  For these reasons I would make them again, but probably not for company. 

Do you have any "healthy" brownie recipes that are yummy?  Share them in the comment section below!

Related posts:
Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Lesson Plan

Our Lesson Plan for this week focuses on Easter!  I'm super excited about Easter this year.  Dying Eggs and watching Little Man find the eggs the Easter Bunny left is going to be fun, fun, fun!  I have almost everything ready for Little Man's Easter basket, too. 

Where are Baby's Easter Eggs By Karen Katz

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Give Me Grace by Cynthia Rylant

The Story of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Good Egg by Barney Saltzberg

Dying Easter Eggs.
Painting Easter Eggs (Show child how to dip cotton ball in paint then dab it on a hardboiled egg)
Decorating paper Easter Eggs or Bunny

Finding Easter Eggs! 
Pom Poms and Muffin tin (scooping pom poms with a spoon into muffin tin)

Singing/Finger play:
Little Bunny Fufu Song
Here Comes a Bunny

Imagination play:
Taking care of teddy bear

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spice Jars & Toothpicks

On my last lesson plan, I mentioned one of the activities Little Man will be doing is playing with Spice Jars and Toothpicks.  This is a great, cheap, activity that keeps Little Man entertained and helped him work on his fine motor skills.

All you need:
-  Empty Spice Jar
-  Toothpicks

The Spice Jar we used had holes cut into it.  For younger children you could use pipecleaners or even q-tips instead of toothpicks.  Show your little one how to put the toothpick into the jar!

  It sounds really easy and even kind of borning, but Little Man got a kick out of it.  He loves stacking things and putting things into other things, so this was right up his alley!

This is something I definitely wouldn't let Little Man do without being watched closely.

Do you have an inexpensive learning or play activity your child enjoys?  I'd love to hear it in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, you make like this, too:
Water & Marker Painting

Linked with:
Hands on as we grow

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Photo Shoot

Don't know about you, but since I'm the unofficial photographer of our house, I hardly have any pictures of me.  I wanted a couple of nice pictures of myself to put on my blog so people will know what I actually look like.  

My friend's sister-in-law agreed to take some pictures for me so I could put them on my blog.  I haven't decided where exactally I want to put these, but I figured I'd share some of the ones she took. 

Little Man was with me and since he is soo stinkin' adorable, he got to be in the pictures, too! 

Thank you  Carrie for taking my pictures!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lesson Plan: March 26

This is our lesson plan for next week.  We're reading books about colors and learning through play!

The lessons look long, but there is a lot of repeating from day to day and things you don't actually have to prepare.  Feel free to cut out projects or add additional ones as you need them. 

Little Man is 18 Months old, so this lesson plan is geared for around his age group.  You can find ways to make this appropriate for "older" toddlers.  The books will certainly be okay for them. 

If you would like a printable version of this lesson plan, click here:

Book:  Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Music/Movement:  "Play" Row, Row, Row your Boat.
Sit on the floor across from your child, legs spread apart enough so you can hold your child's hands.  As you sing the song, pull your child toward you while you lean away.  Have your child lean back while you lean in.  (like you're rowing)  Little Man gets a kick out of doing this activity and claps a lot. 

Creative Art/Fine Motor Skills:  Tracing hands and coloring them.

Gross Motor Skills:  Play ball!  Using a few different sized balls practice rolling them back and forth and showing how to throw.

Speech & Vocab:  Saying "thank you", pointing out colors.

Daily Life Skills:  Being gentle. 

Book:  A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

Gross Motor skills:  Jumbo Legos.  Talk about colors, help sort blocks into piles of different colors.  Have fun stacking them and knocking them over! (fine and gross motor skills)

Music/Movement:  Row, Row, Row your boat

Sensory:  Jello play:  Put jello in dishwashing tub.  Let them play with it with their hands, and let them squish it with their feet.  You could also do this in the bathtub.

Speech & Vocab:  Saying "thank you",  pointing out colors.

Daily Life Skills:  Being gentle. 

Book:  White Rabbit's Color Book by Alan Baker

Fine motor skill/Art:  Finger painting.  Primary colors: red, blue yellow.  Talk about sensory: what does he feel?

Gross Motor:  Chasing bubbles!

Speech & Vocab:  Saying "thank you",  pointing out colors.

Daily Life Skills:  Being gentle. 

Book:  What makes a Rainbow by Betty Ann Schwartz

Music/Movement:  Dancing to reggae music (using Pandora Radio).  Encourage twirling, putting hands above his head, etc.

Sensory: Exploring toys in a laundry bag. 

Fine Motor Skill:  Toothpick and Spice Jar.

Speech & Vocab:  Saying "thank you",  pointing out colors.

Daily Life Skills:   Being gentle. 

Book: My First Colors Book by Dawn Sirett

Sensory:  Walking across sticky side of parchment paper (sensory learning)  describe what he's feeling.

Music/Movement:   Row, Row, Row your boat

Speech & Vocab:  Saying "thank you", pointing out colors.

Daily Life Skills:  Being gentle. 

Any ideas for a lesson plan theme?  I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mommy Book

I just checked this book out at the library today, but so far I'm loving it.  It's called The Toddler's Busy Book, written by Trish Kuffner.

She provides some really great information about toddlers in the intrdocution section.  She writes that toddlers learn great in a one on one situation with their caregivers because the caregiver knows what the children like to learn about and can cater to their needs.  She writes that the little things we do with out toddlers really make a big difference in their learning.  Glad I'm making a difference with Little Man when we play peak-a-boo for the millionth time!

She also has some great suggestions for keeping a busy toddler entertained:  Keeping a "baker's box" for them to play with in the kitchen, a "rainy day" box, and a "job jar" are some of the great ideas she shares.

I'm really excited to read the rest of this book and get tons of ideas!  This book is definitely worth checking out from the library or purchasing.  I'm going to take good notes (I'm a super dork who does that kind of thing) but I may end up purchasing it, too. 

Do you have any favorite books centered around toddler activities?  I'd love to hear them in the comments below!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lesson Plans

Hi All!

I wrote in my last lesson plan post that I'd like to start being a little more organized in my lesson plan scheduling and post our new plan each week.  I'll post my lesson plans on Friday. That way, if you'd like to follow a long, you have the weekend to prepare a little bit.

Little Man is still only 18 Months old: we're going to keep his lesson plans light, and fun.  We're going to incorporate lots of learning through play.  For this age group toddlers learn a lot through casual interaction:  the day to day experiences.

My lesson plans aren't going to be super structured.  The "plan" is more for me than for him.  It's just a schedule so I know what books to reserve from the library and what prep I need to do.  We won't stick to the schedule like glue, either.  If he doesn't feel like coloring, we won't color that day. 

Also, as I've said before, I'm not a teacher or anything: so this is a complete work in progress for me, too.  I've been researching like crazy and picking the brains of my mother-in-law and my mom (both work, or have worked as a childhood educator)  to get ideas and to understand what I should be focusing on in this age group.  

If you have any suggestions or ideas you'd like to share, feel free to chime in!  I'm always looking for new ideas of fun stuff to do with my Little Man to make learning fun for him.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Overnight Oats

I've been having a great time preparing make-ahead breakfasts!  It's sooo nice to have something already made for those busy mornings!

My recipe for Overnight Oats is really easy to make before we go to bed at night.  There are soo many ways to prepare it, you can really use whatever you have on hand.

Overnight Oats
1/2 C Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 C, plus 2 Tbsp  Milk, or Almond Milk (I found, for me, 1/2 was too dry, so an added two Tbsp made it perfect.  Play around with it until you find your desired consistency.)
1/2 tsp Agave
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Put all of your ingredients into a bowl, stir, cover.  Refrigerate overnight.  Enjoy the next morning!  You can add fresh fruit and berries to it, or probably even dried fruit.  I add protein powder to The Hub's and mine if I'm going to the gym right after.  You can, of course, add more or less sweetener and easily double this recipe. 

Aww cute...I make the oats for the three of us!
Do you have any favorite make ahead breakfast recipes?  I'd love to hear them! Share them in the comments!

For some other great make ahead breakfasts, check these out:
Breakfast Sammies
Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oats

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Toddler Time - Coloring

We had a blast working on yesterday's "green themed" lesson plan!  We didn't read "Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green" because it ended up being a bigger kid book.  It looks like a cute one though!

Little Man had a blast watching mommy and daddy jump around like frogs saying "ribbit, ribbit!"  He didn't try to jump on his own yet, but I showed him how to at least move his hands like he was jumping and said "ribbit" and he would laugh. 

The Hubs showing Little Man how to jump like a frog!
He also enjoyed coloring the frog.  I need to get him some fat crayons so he can hold them in his hand a little easier (Easter basket idea!), but he still did a great job.  He liked using the markers to color his hands.  We talked about the frog while we were coloring our printouts.  (I was coloring a frog, too)

He definately enjoyed coloring:  We're going to have to be sure to add it into our lessons more often.

Here are some additional free printable coloring pages that have to do with the upcoming St. Patrick's Day celebration:
Leprechaun and pot of gold 
"Happy St. Patrick's Day" and Shamrock
Pot of Gold

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pink Slime

I'm sure you've read it or heard it on the news a lot recently, but parents are fighting to kick pink slime out of the school's kitchens. 

I personally have not researched too much about it, but apparently "pink slime" is made of the leftover scraps of animal meat and connective tissue mixed with ammonia hydroxide.  The leftover animal meat scraps and connective tissue was previously used to put in dog food.  The government (or scientists) has figured out that if they mix ammonia hydroxide into the "meat" it helps to kill some of the harmful germs in it like E. coli, and salmonella. 

First off, should we be feeding our children meat byproducts that before 2001 were useable for consumption only by dogs? 

Secondly, ammonia hydroxide doesn't sound very safe to me:  It's used in household cleaners, and fertilizers.  According to Wikipedia  "Household ammonia is dilute ammonium hydroxide" click here for source.  Does that sound safe, or yummy to put into our food?  They wouldn't even  have to use the ammonia hydroxide if they used the good, quality part of the meat anyhow.  

It's not just schools who use pink slim in their meat - according to this article, pink slime is in 70% of meat we purchase in the store.  The article does point out that purchasing organic beef is one way to know you're not eating this gunk, as well as purchasing your meat at Costco, Publix, and Whole Foods (just to name a few, see article for more details).

Furthermore, some of the big fast food chains like Taco Bell, Burger King, and McDonalds have ditched the pink slime in their food.  If the fast food industry says it's must be bad, hello!

Additionally, ".....mixing "pink slime" into ground beef earns the industry [Beef Products Incorporated] about 3 cents for every pound of meat produced" according to this article.  So, they're making money by putting "beef substitute" into our meat.  

Feel free to visit for more information.  The owner of the blog has also created an online petition letter addressed to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to get pink slime out of our children's school cafeteria lunches

I try not to be too political, or argumentative on my blog.  However, I believe some of the things we're doing with our food these days to make it last longer, or cheaper to grow is getting a little out of hand. 

I think it's our job as consumers and as responsible parents to make sure we protect ourselves and our children as best we can to make sure what they're eating is healthy.  I understand it's expensive to buy only organic:  we don't buy exclusively organic in our house, but we try to make the best decisions we can. 

I'll get off my soap box now...enjoy the rest of your day :D

Here's a list of sources I looked at while researching this post:
Huffington Post  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Baileys Shamrock Cookies

Happy Sunday!

I usually like to post healthier desserts on my blog.  I love me some sweets, but I usually don't want to completely blow my diet while The Hubs and I are just hanging out watching movies. 

But......there are special occasions where you don't mind making something a little less healthy.  St. Patties Day is just that kind of special occasion.  You've got your corned beef, green beer and....Bailey's Shamrock Cookies!

I volunteered to make cookies for The Hubs work.  Last year I made Stout Cupcakes for all the guys, and this year I decided to make the Bailey's Shamrock Cookies.

The Recipe:
You can get the cookie recipe here.  The recipe turned out super yummy:  they came out very soft and moist.  I was really very pleased with the cookie itself. 

A couple notes about the cookie dough:  before I put it in the refrigerator it was really sticky and didn't hold up together.  I refrigerated mine overnight and it was very workable the next day.  You could, of course, add green food coloring to the cookies, but I left mine plain. 

I created my own Bailey's Powdered Sugar Icing because I felt the cookies could handle the extra Bailey's flavor. 

-  2 Cups Powered Sugar, sifted
-  3 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
-  3 Tablespoons Milk *
-  1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
-  Green Food Coloring

*  Add the Bailey's Irish Cream to the powered sugar first and mix well.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time while mixing until you get the desired consistency.   Mix in the rest of ingredients.

I am by no means the best decorator on earth, but I learned a few new tricks thanks to my good friend Tabitha from Simply My Kitchen who showed me how to decorate cookies. 

1.  Start by outlining all of your cookies.  Use half of your icing to fill a pastry bag or ziplock bag.  (Reserve the rest to fill your cookies)
2.  Outline all of your your cookies.  You want the outline of your cookie to dry before you flood it with the rest of the icing.

3.  Water down the reserved icing.  Water it down by adding more milk until the consistency is pretty runny.  Test the consistency by picking up some icing with a spoon and letting it drizzle back into the bowl.  You'll want to see the drizzle disappear back into the bowl within 10 seconds. 

4.  You can fill another ziplock bag, pastry bag, or a squeeze bottle with the runny icing.  I ended up finding a spoon worked the best.  It was soo runny that anytime i dumped the pastry bag or the ziplock back over it would run out too fast and make a mess. 

5.  Spoon some of the runny frosting onto the cookie and use a toothpick to help spread the frosting around on the cookie.

Ta-da! Here is your final cookie:

I'm going to try to wrap them up before I send them to work with The Hubs.  There are a lot of cookies, though: about 70 (I made two batches) so I may not.  That's a lot of cookies! 

Have you found any fun Saint Patrick's day food?  If so, share them with me!  I'm always looking for something new to add to our Saint Patrick's Day Celebration!  

disclosure:  People usually say you "bake off" the alcohol when you're using it in baked good.  There is "unbaked" Bailey's Irish Cream in the frosting.  I believe these cookies are more appropriate for adults.  If you wish to make these alcohol free you might be able to substitute the Bailey's Irish Cream for liquid coffeemate, or just make regular  sugar cookies with regular green frosting for children.