Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Secret Life of my Salt and Pepper Shakers

I'm always amazed at the variety of tiny flowers we find in our yard among the blades of grass when we look very, very carefully.  Of course, little ones don't know them as "weeds" yet and are able to enjoy them for their actual beauty.  We like looking them up in nature identification books to find their names.


I think I may have mentioned this before, but personal salt and pepper shakers (minus their lids) make excellent little vases for our yard flowers.  Just the right size!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Summer Gift for Grandparents

I've seen some really cute hand and footprint art; and so when I was trying to come up with a unique grandparent gift lately I started poking around the internet for some ideas along that line.  I found a fun blog called Hand and and Footprint art where I saw the author had made some cards with footprint flip flops.

Since my summer-loving mother in law was about to have a birthday, a hand-decorated beach tote seemed like just the thing.  I'm sure some of you crafty sorts could do a better job executing this concept, (I'm more of an impatient, imprecise idea person) but even doing it simply like I did turned out cute. 

The girls enjoyed having their footprints made (giggled like crazy because the paintbrush tickled ).

The canvas tote, fabric paint, and coordinating ribbon to line the bag with all came from Michaels.  For the pattern of the flip flops I traced around a pair of M's shoes and a pair of G's shoes, but when I filled in the pattern with paint, I enlarged them slightly (because footprints are slightly larger than feet).

I had the girls sit down and placed the bag on the ground for the print.  After each print, I washed the foot and filled in some of the spotty places on the footprint with a paintbrush.
Getting the straps on the flip flops to lay right turned out to be a little tricky.  I'm not going to include a tutorial on that because I think there's probably a better way than how I did it.  :-) 

Friday, March 25, 2011

A handy plastic creature case

I've been glad we've had one of these see-through containers for small animals around.  (I think my mom picked it up at a garage sale for us for about a quarter).  It's so handy for temporarily keeping little critters we come across.  M really enjoyed looking at this lizard up close for a while before we let him go again. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Garden Hose Telephone

 It may sound strange, but bringing a garden hose into the house can be serious fun. M got such a kick out of standing on the other side of a large room and hearing someone whisper crystal clear in her ear. 
(It's like a telephone made with cups and a string- but it works better!)  It's also kind of neat to whisper into one's own ear. :-)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Resurrection Cookies

A friend passed this recipe along to me, and I have since found it in many places on the internet. It looks like a wonderfully meaningful way to share Easter anticipation with little ones. I can't wait to try it this year!

The hollow cookie at the end is similar to the resurrection muffins we made last year. This recipe is extra special though because of the story you tell along the way as you make the cookies with your children. I love how it involves so many senses in the storytelling!


1c. whole pecans, 1 tsp. vinegar, 3 egg whites, pinch salt, 1c. sugar, zipper baggie, wooden spoon, tape, Bible.

Preheat oven to 300 BEFORE BEGINNING.

1. Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.
Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl.
Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life.
Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.
Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.

Add 1 c. sugar.
Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know this and to belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.

6. Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.
Explain that the color white represents the purity of Jesus and the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.

8. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.
Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt.27:65-66.

Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

10. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.
Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty! Read Matt. 28:1-9

Visit Works for Me Wednesday for more great ideas!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What I love about my home organization notebook

I'm a little afraid to show you my housebook because I've tried other systems before to keep myself domestically organized and they've turned out to be dismal failures. But this one has been in place for about two months now and I'm still excited about it; so I'm going to take the risk.

Things I love about my household binder:

1. I get to cross off a to- do list that includes very small, mundane tasks. I even get the satisfaction of filling in a box for drinking each glass of water and another for wiping down the counters.

2. My daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly to do lists only need to be printed off once. I've stuck them in pocket protectors and use a dry erase marker to fill in the boxes. Each day I wipe off the old marks and start fresh. For the every- other- day and every- other- week tasks, I place a small dot to the left of the box if I did them previously; so I know that they don't need to be done on that day/ week.
3. I can easily add to my to do lists. There is a place on each list where I can use my dry erase pen to write additional one-time tasks. If I don't get to those tasks that day, I just don't erase them when I start out fresh for the next day.

3. It uses the "Papyrus" font throughout and makes me happy every time I look at it. (my favorite font :-)

4. My binder has lots of pockets (in the binder itself and also in the form of pocket protectors) I use these to store all of the random bits of paper that would otherwise accumulate on my counters (That weeks grocery ads, recipes, important letters, etc). It's so great to have everything in one place!
5. I keep an abundance of looseleaf notebook paper in the binder. When an idea/ question pops into my mind I scratch it on one of the sheets and then later file that sheet under the appropriate tab.

6. The system is completely adaptable. If I find that my daily to do list makes unreasonable demands on me or doesn't include something important, I just go to the computer file that has the list, make my edits and slip my new piece of paper into the pocket protector.

I should note that I often don't complete every item on my list, and some days I'm in such a whirlwind of busyness that I completely ignore the lists. But even when I don't physically check off the items there is still something satisfying to me in completing tasks that I know would ALLOW me to check an item off a list if I bothered to do it. I feel a little silly when I realize how vulnerable I am to these little manipulative tricks, but they really have helped keep me on track.

What household organizing tools have you found helpful? Building new good habits is so worthwhile but often so difficult. I need all the help I can get!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spatter Painting

When R came home from a trip this week, this sign greeted him at the door.  My mother was also visiting this week and came up with the idea.  She:

1.  Printed large outline letters off the computer and cut them out.
2.  Lightly glue sticked each letter onto a blank piece of cardstock.
3.  Had the girls spatter paint with tempera paint all over each piece of cardstock.  She had them use a toothbrush on a screen, but we found it actually worked better to just flick the paint covered toothbrush with one's thumb. 

( G tried to use the toothbrush to brush her teeth before we got to her. She's quick!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What to do with Loads and Loads of Bananas

The other day at the grocery store when I encountered a 10 pound bag of organic bananas on clearance for 99 cents I felt that I had struck gold.  There was no question of not buying it; for me, that much food for under a dollar is an automatic purchase.  It wouldn't have mattered if they were pickled beets (which I hate).

But, back home with my counter overflowing with slightly over ripe bananas, I did begin to have a few doubts.  What does one DO with that many bananas?  I stuck about 8 bananas in the freezer to be used for banana bread at a later time but was still left with several bunches. 

Thankfully, I remembered a recipe I had read a while back on moneysavingmom for peanut butter banana smoothies.  I had never tried the recipe before but went ahead and peeled the bananas, sliced them into 1 inch pieces, and froze them on pieces of wax paper in my freezer.  Once they were frozen I took them off the paper and condensed the pieces into a large freezer bag.  (The banana pieces do not turn brown when frozen
this way)

 I modified the smoothie recipe a little bit to fit our on-hand ingredients and to make it slightly more healthful.  We LOVED it.  It tastes very much like a banana ice cream, and it is so filling I've made it for a light lunch a couple of times. 

Here is the recipe as we make it:

 Banana Peanut Butter Smoothies
1 1/2 cups sliced frozen bananas
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
1/8 cup wheat germ

Blend in the blender until smooth.
 Any other ideas for the next time I strike gold in the banana department at HEB?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spring Trees

 It happens every March:  all my craft ideas turn to flowers.    The blossoms on these spring trees were made by hole punching lots of pink tissue paper.  It turned the tissue paper into a web of delicate lace.  I kind of like it and may use it for gifts that way!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Vowel and Consonant Flowers

This activity would work for working on any type of "distinguishing characters skill) (capital and lower case, numbers and letters, etc)

1. Write a selection of upper and lower case letters on a sheet of blank sticker paper. Space the letters fairly far apart.

2. Cut out around the consonants in the shape of flower petals; cut around the vowels as circles (flower centers)

3. Peel off the adhesive backs and place on a sheet of wax paper (or a pocket protector as we did)

4. Instruct your preschooler to color all of the vowels yellow. Then, when the centers are colored, have your child to color the petals other bright colors.
5. Allow your child to peel off the stickers and arrange them in flower shapes on a regular piece of paper. (Youl'll notice that I should have made many more consonants- the flowers ended up a little skimpy because of it, but we were in a hurry :-)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Toddler Shoe Games

These ideas are modified from I can teach my child!

Game 1

1.  Throw a big pile of shoes in the middle of the floor (not too hard for us because our shoes all mostly live in a  heap just inside our door anyway)
2.  Make sure they all  have matches.  (If you have a young toddler you might want to limit the number of pairs to 3 or 4)
3.  Take one of the shoes in your hand, show it to your toddler and ask "Can you find the other one?"
4.  When she/he finds each match, help her to line them up together as pairs on the floor.

Game 2
1.  Find one empty laundry basket for each member of your family.  Line them up against the wall, and label each with the name of a family member.
2.  With the shoes still all lined up in pairs, point to one of the baskets and say "This is [Mommy's] basket.  Can you find some of mommy's shoes?"
3.  When the child locates them say, "Now can you put mommy's shoes into mommy's basket?"
4.  Continue until all shoes have a home.