Saturday, February 27, 2010

Good Stuff...IKEA Easels

We bought this for our boys for Christmas, but it stayed in storage until recently. They received SO much stuff. They were really overwhelmed. We got it out recently and set in a corner of our play/family room. It's a big hit. And get this... it was $15! Price other easels, and you'll see what a deal it is. One side chalkboard, the other dry erase board. It's got a dowel for holding a paper roll. The boys can both play with it without fighting. Yeah for me! It's a win-win. So, if you didn't like IKEA already, here's another reason.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Handprint Hearts

Our moms club had a sweet Valentine's Day Party. I wanted to share a simple, but adorable craft that we did. Handprints are always a great activity. They are great keepsakes to mark the growth of your little ones and get them directly involved. Large red hearts were cut out with construction paper. They were glued to white heart doilies. I'm sure you could use circular ones, too. Then, the hand prints were made using a sponge roller dipped in white paint rolled over hands and pressed onto the red heart. Let dry.

Countertop Education

At a recent moms club meeting, we had an educator speak to the group about preparing your child for preschool. One thing she said really stuck with me, "School is your back-up plan." She meant that children get their real education at home. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we teach our kids every day. So, I decided to be more proactive about teaching my kids. I know I fail miserably at a lot of things, but I think I scored a point this morning...

I decided that I'd start putting out fruit in a bowl on the counter. I've had a losing battle with weight all my life. Though I work out at the gym, I have a serious challenge with portion control. And carbs, especially sweet carbs are my downfall. My mom told me once that I'd eat chicken potty if it had sugar sprinkled on it. Since I am so visual, I thought putting a bowl of fruit out would encourage me to choose healthy snacks and model that example for my boys.

After getting them dressed, I sent the boys downstairs to play while I got ready. When I came down to make breakfast, they were each munching on their own crunchy gala. I about fell over dead. So, I'm hoping that I'll find other ways to teach my kids with my countertop.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

I don't make fish nearly as often as a should. I made this tonight, and it was just yummy...

4 Tilapia fillets
2 T butter
1.5 T honey
2 T Dijon mustard
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
2 t finely chopped parsley
lemon wedges, optional

Preheat oven 45o˚F. Place tilapia in lightly greased 13 x 9" pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and honey. Stir in mustard. Brush on fish. Combine bread crumbs, pecans, and parsley. Spoon evenly over fish. Bake 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Garnish with lemon.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hearts and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!

We are snowed in - like we ain't leaving the house for 3 days snowed in. Snow drifts 3 and 4 feet deep. I decided this might be a good time to do our February craft project. This year, Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year fall on the some day. Last year, we did a shape recognition project making animals using hearts. Here's the panda template, but there are links to other heart animals here.

I decided that doing a panda again would be a fun way of tying the two days together. Then I realized it was The Year of the Tiger, so we made tigers too! The website doesn't have a tiger template, so I improvised. I made mine a little bigger, so the boys would have an easier time gluing. Of course, Monkey couldn't resist trying a bit of glue stick. I know a lot of kids are like this, but he'll eat play-doh, glue, and even suck the ink out of a marker if he gets the chance, but turns his nose up at a green bean! Oh well.
We made some of the other critters too: ladybugs, butterflies and mice. By the way, despite appearances my children are very happy little boys, they just NEVER smile when a camera is in their face.

Here are the materials:

Construction paper
Glue or glue sticks
Googly eyes
Elastic strips for a mask
Exact-o knife

Cut out all the heart shapes. Older kids might enjoy this as well. We took some of our tigers, cut out eyes and attached elastic string for masks. I punched holes in the sides for the string, but that broke pretty easily. I ended up stapling the elastic to the paper several times.
They even liked them as visors.

After a good deal of roaring around the house, they requested a jungle. I used a green sheet to make a jungle fort. They collected a bunch of their stuffed animal buddies and curled up inside. Tater observed that the jungle smelled like monkeys, and it turned out his little brother had a dirty diaper. It didn't seem to bother either of them. I guess it seemed logical that the jungle would smell like poop.

Anyhow, that is what we did with the better part of our snowy day. I have a feeling we'll do these again.

We didn't get to the zoo in time to say goodbye to Tai Shan, but once the weather clears up, we're planning on a trip to stop by to see the other pandas and maybe a tiger or two. We might bring our masks along and practice our roaring skills.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Double Sided Apron

My least favorite time of the day is 4:30pm. It's when the boys wake up from naps, if they nap. It's also when I have to think about making dinner. Before kids, I'd spend hours preparing meals; making reductions, baking cheesecakes. Last week, I broke down and made tuna casserole. TUNA CASSEROLE! It's the last lap of my day. I have 1 1/2 hours before hubby gets home. The boys slowly began their meltdown. And along with contemplating dinner, I consider the sink full of dishes afterward. I kinda have a bad attitude about it.

Partly, the winter is to blame. I think I have a little seasonal effective disorder or whatever its called. I don't like it getting dark so soon. We've also had unusually snowy weather. We're expecting our second big snow soon. 2 feet! I love snow, but not Buffalo, NY, snow. I needed a little more color in my life.

I saw some cute aprons at various sites, so I thought I take some cheery fabric I had and make my own! Now, at least I have a splash of color and pattern to get me through. I'm going to make some more for friends and family members.

To Make:

1. I cut two pieces the same size, about 26 x 20 inches with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. I didn't wash my fabric first, so I accounted for a little shrinkage. I folded it over and cut an arch out of what will be the bottom of the apron. You can skip this part, but I like the curve.

2. Putting the right sides together, I sewed around the apron using a 1/2 inch seam. I left two holes about 3 inches wide at the top of both sides of the apron. This way, I can turn the fabric inside-out and slide in the straps. Press with a hot iron.

3. For the straps, I cut two strips of fabric 26 x 4 inches long. I folded them lengthwise, right sides together and pressed them. I sewed around the straps with a 3/8" seam, leaving one end open. I turned them inside out, pressed them, and slid them into the holes.

4. Finally, I sewed all around the apron about 3/8 inch from the edge for a finished look.

Here are some photos...