Monday, March 30, 2009

Grandma's Granola

Since we're moving soon, I've been trying to use some of our food storage. Today I decided to make use of our oatmeal supply. Missy L & C and I made my Grandma Heaton's Granola recipe. It is so good which is bad because that means I've already had my fair share of granola for the week (and I have no plans of halting my intake). It's a perfectly sweet, crunchy granola - good for snacking and enjoying with milk, yogurt or fruit. Keep in mind it makes a lot. I had to use 3 jellyroll pans to bake it all and ended up with 2 gallon-sized storage bags full (approx 16-18 cups).

Granny Esther's Granola

8 C rolled oats
3 C wheat flakes (brand name: Zoom, find it on the hot cereal aisle)
2 C wheat germ (also found by the hot cereal)
2 C coconut
1 C nuts
1 ¼ C brown sugar
½ C honey
1 C oil (I added about a 1/4 cup less)
1 C water
1 T vanilla
2 t salt
(optional) craisins or your favorite dried fruit.

Combine all dry ingredients and mix. Add liquid ingredients. Mix again until everything is evenly coated. Add nuts. Spread on jelly roll pan and bake at 225 F for 1 ½ hours until golden brown (I use a Sil-pat or parchment paper to keep my pans clean). Stir occasionally (about every 30 minutes). Add in dried fruit when cooled.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sugar-free Jelly Bean Bags

I saw this cute idea and thought it would be a great alternative for Easter candy this year. They were easy and turned out great. If I did it again, I would cut my beans out a little bit fatter. Just a suggestion for those who want to make some, too. Also, I used cotton prints instead of felt due to my lack of Easter colored felt.

Preview: Birthday Invites

Just finished these yesterday:

...invites for miss l's friends.

dad's's supposed to be a tea bag if you can't tell.

March Mad Scientist Week: Kitchen Science

Yesterday we did several kitchen science experiments:

1. Yeast: we activated yeast using sugar and warm water in an empty water bottle, put a balloon around the rim of the bottle, and then watched as it inflated the balloon.

2. Lemon Juice Art: we colored with lemon juice and q-tips, let it dry and then baked at 350 for 5 minutes. The heat browns the juice and makes a picture appear. Make sure you saturate your q-tip often.

3. Cornstach and Water Goop: by mixing 1 part water to 2 parts cornstarch, we made a substance that was a liquid when you held it and a solid when you moved it around.

4. Vinegar and Baking Soda volcano: We colored our white vinegar with a little food coloring to make it red, then poured it into our container of baking soda to make our volcanic eruption.

March Mad Scientist Week: Plants

Wednesday was plant day. We made diagrams of the parts of plant, found plants in our refrigerator and checked out the results of our celery experiment that we started on Monday. My favorite part was slicing the celery and looking at the holes (I think they call them the xylem if we're getting scientific) that were dyed red. Carnations would have been neat, but we didn't have any of those on hand. We also cut open an apple to find the seeds and then had it (the apple not the seeds) for our snack.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March Mad Scientist Week: Water Play

Little Miss L enjoyed the water play activities and was soaked by the end. I began filling an empty gallon milk jug with her which she then tried to lift. The point: to show that water is heavy. She agreed, it was heavy. Then we walked around collecting various items to find out if they would sink or float. We filled up the tub, I had my laminated sink/float chart and we began the experiment. I would ask Will it sink or float? Missy answered "float" 100% of the time :) She loved throwing everything into the tub while I recored our data. When we finished, I gave her some kitchen equipment and put some soap in the water and she just played and stirred up bubbles.

March Mad Scientist Week: Nature Walk

Our first science activity was a nature walk. Believe it or not, there is still a little bit of nature in the city. I made colored squares and tied them together. The goal was to collect at least one thing of each color. With the exception of blue (we had a hard time gluing the sky or water to our paper and we couldn't find any robin eggs), we found every color. I also took some pictures for things we couldn't take with us (flowers, bugs, the sky, etc). As we went on our walk, I talked to Miss L about nature (animals, trees, water, flowers...)

Bib Clips

I love these bib clips. They are small and convenient. It seems like I'm always looking for a bib. Now anything can be turned into one (for drooling or dinner messes).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Get in on the fun this week...

I haven't been motivated in the preschool area but today I came up with a fun idea that I'm excited about and I just wanted to let anyone who reads this blog know about it. That way if you want, you can get in on the fun since the name won't work next week...
It's MARCH MAD...SCIENTIST WEEK at our house!
Everyday we are going to have fun doing a different science experiment(s).
Here's my tentative plan:
-Monday: Nature Hike and collection
-Tuesday: Float/Sink Water Play
-Wednesday: Plants...Celery food coloring experiment(you have to start this a couple days before)
-Thursday: Kitchen Science
-Friday: the Zoo..Animals
Let me know if you do it, too. I'd love to see pictures and ideas!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bargain Hunter

Since I started this blog, I've put some new blogs on my reader. One of them is Thanks to her (a link to Huggies coupons and a store sale), today I got my first store items for FREE! Here they are, my favorite things for the day:

4 boxes of baby wipes for zero dollars!
Since she doesn't live here, some of the deals she finds don't work for me, but it has been nice to save a little more than in the past. I was so excited, I called B man and my mom as I was driving home. Now if someone could find a blog for me that is specific to my area...

Made From Scratch

I've debated whether or not to post a review for this book because as Randy Jackson would say, "It was just okay for me, dawg", but since I read it I thought I'd at least share a few thoughts.

The book is written by a "city" girl who takes a job in Idaho and while there she decides she wants to return to a simpler life. She shares her stories and pointers on raising chickens, angora rabbits, and bees; training a dog sled team; growing a garden; sewing clothes, cooking bread and other foods, etc. Basically she raves about the joys of farm living. There are some fun ideas and it almost inspired me to get bees or chickens if I had a place to put them.

Really the book wasn't bad but since I consider myself a country girl at heart, some of these "revolutionary" ideas that she had discovered herself have always been a part of my family, so I had to chuckle occassionally as I read. It isn't hard to read and she lists many good resources if you're interested in any of the subjects listed above.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lucky Day

We had a fun St. Patrick's Day. I actually didn't have much planned until my sister called and inspired me to do something, so I ran to the store, bought a few supplies, and went to work.

Much to mini L's delight, a leprechaun visited during the night and left some cute, green footprints in our kitchen. They led to a lucky breakfast treat and a note for the girls. It turns out we have a family leprechaun named O' Conner (whoever thought of his name, didn't think about logistics because miss L has a friend named Conner and I think she confused the two all day long). O' Conner told us to try to catch him, so she spotted him many, many times (in the grass, in the trees, in the clouds, etc). Oh, and that crazy leprechaun kept sneaking in and turning our food green. Miss L LOVED her green milk. We made snickerdoodles, but O' Conner changed them green so we're now calling them Luckydoodles. To cap off the night, we had cherry lime floats. Yummy!

Miss L's Luckydoodles aka Great Snickerdoodles

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (we used 1 tablespoon of lemon juice because we didn't have cream of tartar)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
(optional) green food coloring

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pettiskirt #1

So remember when I entered that contest for the pettiskirt? Well, I didn't win. Bummer for me, but I had already decided that I was going to make some for the girls either way. This one is for Charleston Chew and it turned out so cute. When I picked out the colors all I kept thinking about was Sunshine Generation. Do you remember that singing and dancing group? I always wanted to be in it. Anyway, now that the skirt is finished it keeps reminding me of a chick...perfect for my little chickie, Charley. Yellow seems to fit her.

Just so everyone knows, this skirt isn't as hard to make as it looks. In fact, it was a lot of fun although it was time consuming because there are a lot of ruffles to sew. I used the instructions from Martha Stewart and the tips from the Grosgrain blog. I know Miss L's will go even faster now that I've done one. Shhh! They are for her birthday party in April.

*I got the fabric here for $1.52 a yard...but shipping was $10.00. I need to look around because I'm sure they have this at fabric stores. I'm wondering if it goes by a different name because it's more like tricot then chiffon...I'll stay on the lookout.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

St. Patty's Jingle Bracelets

The girls are going to a little St. Patrick's Day party this weekend and after thinking for a long time, they've decided to bring these for everyone:

We wanted to help out and bring an activity. Since the invitees are all under 2 (actually the majority are under 1), I had to think about something that little ones could do. Enter jingle bracelets. The kids can shake them or wear them on their wrists while we listen to a St. Patrick's Day song. The bells are supposed to form a 3-leaf clover.

What I learned during this project: glitter and jingle bells do not mix well. While the glitter is definitely cute, the glue got inside and effected the "jingle" of the bell...:( If you're careful, you can probably get it to work.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Book Bug

My sister started an awesome book review blog mainly focusing on children's literature. She is an avid book reader and I'm so excited she's sharing her love and knowledge. You need to go check it out. It's VERY cute and clever.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Preschool Week 6

Theme: Rainbows
Color: Red
Letter: F
Number: 6

This week was by far my worst organized but also one with some of the most fun activities. I'm getting more into the swing of things and my creative juices are beginning to flow more freely (especially with the help of Jean Warren's site Preschool Express...she has great ideas). This week, I numbered the pictures to explain more about what we did.
*I hope to put my lesson plans into PDFs and post them here, too, but I wanted to edit them a little bit more so they make sense to others. We'll see what I get time for.

1. A fun matching/counting game with clothespins. We counted each clothespin as we put them on the correct color.
2. Shaking the bag of rice to get it coated with color.
3. Our week 6 learning board.
4. A homemade "rainbow" marker aka all the markers taped together.
5. Fingerprint Fs.
6. A red collage.
7. Our red Cat in the Hat hat in celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday (I saw this idea here).
8. Sponge painting our hat.
9. "Fairy Dust" to sprinkle on the table and trace letter Fs.
10. The Rice Rainbow.
11. 6-pointed snowflake. We we cut, I put my had through the scissors and Lucy squeezes my hand. She is a very detailed cutter :)
12. Rainbow paper plate shaker.
13. Making Fs (or maybe just lines and circles:) in the fairy dust.
14. Painting a Fish with watercolors.
15. Making 6's with spaghetti. This was actually much harder than I suspected, but Lucy still found success as she put a piece of spaghetti in a straight line, looked at me and said "a one!" One's would be much easier to do. Another perk to this activity...Lucy ate all the noodles when we were done..."so nummy".
16. Making the rice rainbow.
17. 6 ponytails for "6" day.
18. Making the red collage.
19. Flying like a Fairy to the Nutcracker Suite.
One of my favorite books this week was this:

Isn't it cute? It reminded me of when I was little and Lucy really enjoyed it. I need to check to see if they are still making these.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Teaching Your Children Values

I just finished reading this book, Teaching Your Children Values by Linda and Richard Eyre and just wanted to put in a good word for it. It's a 12 month plan on teaching your children what the authors feel are the most important values. It gives examples and ideas that you can implement each month. The ideas are separated into 3 categories: Preschoolers, Elementary age, and Adolescents. Since Lucy is still pretty small it was nice to read these things for myself and also for ideas that I can begin now. I'll have to try the 1 value a month program that is suggested in a year or two. It's a quick read and has some great ideas.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jacque Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thanks to Martha Stewart (or Jacque Torres), I finally found a chocolate chip cookie recipe that works for me on the East Coast (except Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies which have peanut butter and oatmeal in them so they don't count). I have tried plenty of CC cookie recipes (that failed here) so I was pretty excited to find this recipe. These cookies stayed chewy (my preference) and had a great flavor. The only problem: I practically ate all of them. The recipe makes a lot. I halved it and got about 4 or 5 dozen cookies.

Jacques Torres's Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes twenty-six 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4-inch cookies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs (*Make sure they are large or add an extra egg)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
3 cups bread flour (* You can just use regular flour, just make sure you have sifted or incorporated some air or your cookie dough will be dry)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds Jacques Torres House (60 percent cocoa) Chocolate or other best-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (*I did not have this. Normally I would just use chocolate chips but all I had were M&Ms and they worked just fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.
Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 12-15 minutes for smaller cookies (don't overcook unless you want crispy cookies. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Colored Rice/Pasta

We made this colored rice for preschool today and used it for about 3 or 4 different activities because Lucy enjoyed it so much. I'm sure you've seen it before, but it's such an easy recipe and the kids can help make it (which is good for us because I'm always looking for something to make with Lucy besides cookies.)

Colored Rice/Pasta
Recipe adapted from
1 Cup Colored Rice

*2 teaspoons rubbing alcohol
*12 drops liquid food coloring (color of choice) -for a deep color
*1 cup uncooked white rice or any pasta
*parchment paper or silpat
*baking sheet

1. In a ziplock bag, combine alcohol rub and food coloring.
2. Pour in the rice and close the bag.
3. Shake the bag well (like the shake and bake stuff)...the kids can really have fun helping with this part.
4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pour the rice onto it.
5. Let dry for about 1/2 a day in a warm and airy place OR bake at 200 F for 10-15 minutes.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Medicine Bottle Handouts

These are the medicine bottles I gave out with my lesson in church today. There are a lot of fun things you can do with these things (I have a fun idea I have been wanting to do, but it will be in the distant future). Thanks to my mom who found them for me. They seem to be suspicious of you here (in Baltimore) when you want 50 prescription bottles, but I got them several different times in Utah with no problem. If you order them on the internet, plan on getting 500-600...they aren't that cool :)

Preschool Week 5

Theme: lighthouse
Shape: Octagon
Letter: E
Number: 5

Highlights: making lanterns, playing "find the octagon", "stop" & "go" dancing with a stop sign, eating egg breakfast sandwiches, having multiple "E" egg hunts, jumping/marching/dancing on a big number five, 5 pretty flowers finger puppets, baking a 5 veggie cake garden, reading many great books.