Friday, January 29, 2010

stART - Ella

This week we were learning about the Circus. I didn't have time to go to the library to find a book, so I just trusted the library catalog to find me some good circus books. Did you know that if you place a book on hold and it's checked in, they'll pull it for you so you just have to swing by and pick it up? Fantastic!
We ended up with Ella by Bill Peet. Great story, I'd forgotten all about Bill Peet. I used to read his books as a kid. Pictures are great, the whole story rhymes, and it was a good length too.
After we read the story, we did a craft about E is for Elephant. This idea came out of Kitchen Table Play and Learn
Paper plate
White paint
Black paint
Construction Paper
E stamp or whatever else you'd like to use (I just bought these Alphabet Stamps at Oriental Trading)

* Cut out Elephant.
* Talk about elephant skin and what it feels like.
* Then talk about what do they think will happen when you combine the black and white paint.
* Mix black and white paint together on plate.

* Blow up balloon so it's a bit bigger than your fist and tie off.
* Use balloon to paint elephant. If you stamp it, it should turn out wrinkly like elephant skin.

* While the elephant is drying, use E stamp to make E's on construction paper.

* When elephant is done, glue or tape to construction paper.
Tada! E is for Elephant


    Crafty Wednesday - Clipboard

    Okay, okay, I realize it's Friday. We had a busy last couple days.
    Anyway, here's my project of the week.
    I saw something similar at Mod Podge Rocks awhile back and couldn't think of what to use a clipboard for, so couldn't justify making one if I wasn't going to use it. Then my DH suggested that I start using a clipboard when I go mystery shopping to keep track of my stops and receipts and such.

    This turned out to be a very simple Mod Podge project. I used Mod Podge Matte, but you could use glossy if you felt like it.
    I simply took a piece of scrapbook paper and cut it to size. I rounded the corners. I then cut another piece 4" x 9". I used my cricut to cut a flower using the Walk in my Garden cartridge.
    I put a layer of mod podge on the clipboard, then affixed the first paper and smoothed it down. Then I layered the other pieces using mod podge. I waited for that to dry then put two coats of mod podge over the top of the whole thing, waiting for it to dry between coats.
    Eventually, when I get around to purchasing acrylic sealer, I plan on putting a coat of that on. It wrinkled a little bit, but not too badly. I'm still practicing with the whole mod podge thing, but I'm getting better :) I'll be doing a couple more projects with it soon now that I have a bottle of it.


    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Tasty Tuesday - Asian Pork with Noodles

    Just in case I haven't said this already, I love the Food Network magazine! The recipes are delicious. There is a wide variety of recipes too, some challenging, some easy, including all kinds of food from appetizers to entrees to plenty of tasty desserts. Here's the latest recipe that I made. We had friends over on the night I made this, and they told me I should hire someone to come nanny and clean so I could cook more :) Really, the recipe was not that difficult to make and it turned out fantastic. Because it's a slow-cooker meal, I feel like the recipe is somewhat forgiving too, even better!

    • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (If you don't use low-sodium, just don't salt the pork shoulder)
    • 1 cup soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup dry sherry
    • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used chili powder instead because that's what I had)
    • 2 star anise pods (don't go cheap and forget these, they were worth the cost!)
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
    • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
    • 6 to 8 whole dried shiitake mushrooms
    • 1 pound soba or ramen noodles (about 5 packages of Nissan or Top Ramen)
    • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, sliced (one can)
    • 2 Fresno chile peppers, seeded and thinly sliced (not a fan of spicy, so I didn't use these)
    • 2 scallions, sliced 
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro 
    Combine the broth, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, star anise and cinnamon stick in a 5-quart slow cooker. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the garlic, ginger and mushrooms.

    Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil. Add the pork and brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker, cover and program to cook 4 hours on high, then 2 hours on low, or 6 hours total on low.

    Transfer the pork to a platter, cover and let rest 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the broth and halve them, then return to the broth. Remove star anise and cinnamon stick and discard.

    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles as the label directs. Slice the pork. Divide the noodles among bowls and top with some of the broth and mushrooms and a few slices of pork. Garnish with the water chestnuts, chiles, scallions and cilantro. (I chopped up the water chestnuts, scallions and cilantro and stir fried them in a little bit of oil because that sounded better to me)

    Originally, I was going to just add some stir fried broccoli, since the recipe doesn't have any veggies with it. However, I then remembered that the wife of the couple we were having over for dinner was allergic to broccoli, so I made some stir fried green beans instead. I just put some frozen green beans in my wok with a little oil and some garlic salt. Made an excellent side dish :)
    We were so hungry by the time it was ready, I forgot to take any pictures! (The one at the top is from Food Network.)
    If I get to it, I'll post a couple more recipes this week because I made some other very tasty food too. We'll see how that goes...


    Monday, January 25, 2010

    Mommy Monday - Sticker Chart

    Last Saturday, we put up a sticker chart for Kahlen with some chores for her. Some were new, some were things she was struggling with. I took her to Target the day we put it up and let her pick out a pony for when the chart was full.

    All week, she worked diligently on her chart, getting the thing full in exactly 7 days! She did awesome, and I'm excited to have her not only continue the chores she started, but also to add a few more difficult things relating to her heart and some issues we've been having lately. Things like staying in bed and not getting up to go pee 20 times in an hour, obeying Mommy quickly and the first time, and I'm sure a few more. The first one worked so well, here's hoping for continued success!

    Also, here's a hilarious picture of Kahlen. I borrowed Wii Fit Plus from my mom to see if I like it enough to buy it. Kahlen really wanted to play too, so here she is, doing yoga :)

    And, of course, I can't help throwing in a picture of the boy. He LOVES graham crackers! So much so that he doesn't get any for the next couple days because I want him to eat his veggies too.

    I would love to know what sort of chores and responsibilities your little ones have. I'm still trying to figure out what is reasonable to ask of my 3-year-old and what she's just not capable of yet.

    Muffin Tin Monday - ABCs/123s

    Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

    Today was our first shot at Muffin Tin Monday. The theme was ABC/123s. I decided to do both at the same time. So we had:

    1 Apple
    2 Beans (green)
    3 Carrots
    4 Dogs (corn)
    5 Edamame
    6 Fish (goldfish)

    She's still working on her veggies 20 minutes later, but that's the routine these days :)
    Next week, the theme is Dr Seuss.


    Friday, January 22, 2010

    stART - Shopping with Dad

    This week, we were learning all about Groceries, so we read several books about shopping and groceries. This one, called "Shopping with Dad" by Matt Harvey, was a little disjointed, but fun none-the-less. And Kahlen and daddy thought it was hilarious; that's what really counts :)

    After we read the story, we made a grocery list


    and played Grocery Store.

    I collected several empty boxes, jars, and jugs for the last few weeks instead of recycling them. Then I moved most of her toys temporarily off her toy box and set up a little store. I printed pictures of the items that I had saved (got most of the pictures from the Home Shop portion of the King Soopers website), then had her glue them on to a piece of paper. We then "went" to the grocery store, and she had to find the things on her list, put them in the "cart" (laundry basket) and mark them off the list. Then I was the "lady" (cashier) and had her pay for her groceries. I bagged them in our reusable grocery bags and off she went. She put them in the kitchen and pretended to put them away. Here's a few more pictures. Also, I've added a bunch of links for the resources I used for this project at the end of the post.

    Getting Milk

    Crossing it off the list

    Here's her "money" that I printed onto colored cardstock

    All done, going to put the groceries away now!

    Hubbard's Cupboard Groceries unit (Scroll down to see planning sheet and pictures of other activities)
    Shopping with Dad by Matt Harvey
    King Sooper's HomeShop Used this to get pictures of the items that I had boxes for. Worked for most of my items.


    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Crafty Wednesday - Card Designs

    Not crafting too much this week. I've challenged myself to keep a better handle on my house, and so far I've been doing pretty good. However, that doesn't leave as much time for crafting! That and my little man has been slightly unpredictable this week, geez, like he's a baby or something :)
    Anyway, here's some cards that I made back in October when we had a girly weekend up in Frisco. I hope they inspire you ;-) If not, you can always buy them from me on Etsy

    The other thing I'm working on right now is Kahlen's second year scrapbook. So far, so good. It's about half done. I'm planning on scanning it when I'm done, but we'll see how far down the list that gets pushed.


    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Tasty Tuesday - Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo

    Got this tasty recipe from Top Secret Recipes a long time ago. I pull it out whenever I'm wanting something fattening and delicious.The trick to this recipe is to be {patient}. It takes a long time for the cream to come to a simmer, but if you turn the heat up, you'll "break" your sauce, and it won't be creamy, but still will be delicious. It doesn't include a recipe for chicken, so I've added one at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

    Olive Garden Alfredo Pasta

    For simple, tasty chicken to go with it:
    2-3 chicken breasts, sliced into 1x3 inch strips
    1/4-1/3 cup Italian dressing. I use Kraft Zesty Italian, but anything will work

    • Place sliced chicken in pan and cook over medium heat until outsides are white. You can add a little water if you like. I use a wok, so I don't need to.
    • Add dressing and cook until chicken is done
    Delicious! Remember to drink plenty of water with this one to dilute the fat :)


    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Mommy Monday - Teething

    Aagh, I don't remember Kahlen having such a hard time with her teeth! Poor Nate, I feel bad for the little guy. He has two teeth already and I think he's getting at least two more, maybe even more than that. I feel like he lives on pain meds and Oragel. Oh well, maybe if he gets them all now, I won't have to deal with it for a little while, eh? I can hope, right?

    Here's a sneak preview of my Valentine's day pictures that we took this weekend. Can't post all of them yet since I haven't sent them out for the monthly calendar pictures to the fam. :)

    Preschool Planning - Valentine's Day

    I'm excited and I wanted to share! I just came up with a new strategy for planning preschool for Kahlen. I made a new planning sheet that I think will work best for me based on all these wonderful ideas I've recently found online. I couldn't really find a complete plan that was what I wanted, so I'm going to make my own (no one's surprised) :)
    Right now, we're doing school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I've set up my plan sheet to be that. Also, I have enjoyed doing a theme for each week, so I'm going to continue doing that as well. Most of my activities, verses, and theme ideas are still going to come from Hubbard's Cupboard, but I found that I wanted the information in a different format and I was adding activities as well. Hubbard's Cupboard has great ideas for Bible memory verses to song, monthly playdough, and a monthly sensory bin, so those are all on the bottom of my plan sheet.

    So, here's my main planning sheet:
    Unit Planning Sheet

    And here's my Valentine's Day unit with the planning sheet filled out and all the info and sheets I'll need for the activities:
    Valentine's Day
    I'll be starting this unit next week, so I'll let you all know how my new idea works. In the mean time, if anyone wants the original publisher file so you can edit it yourself, let me know; I'd be happy to email it to you :)


    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Crafty Wednesday - Valentine's Day part 1

    I got inspired today from Someday Crafts to make some Valentine's decorations. I've seen a few things now with this black/red/teal color scheme, and I {love} it! I had some time tonight while the hubby was at bible study with the guys, so here's what I came up with:
    Both projects together took just over an hour. Got the idea for the banner at Basketmaster Weaving. Cut everything out on my Cricut using Doodlecharms and Lyrical Letters: Connected. Here's a close-up picture:

    The conversation heart craft came from Red Heads Craft More Fun. My Cricut only cuts up to 5.5 inches, and my frame was an 8x10, so I put two hearts instead. Also, I ran mostly out of hearts, so I only did one layer.
    There you have it, the start of my Valentine's Day crafts. I'm sure there'll be more, I still have a whole month! :-)



    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Tasty Tuesday - Turkey Tetrazinni

    An old family recipe that I haven't tried to make without Mom's help, but made it just fine yesterday :)
    Cleaned up the recipe a bit; originally it came from Joy of Cooking. Thanks to my sister for typing and sending it to me!

    Chicken or Turkey Tetrazzini
     6-8 servings

     3 ½ pounds chicken parts or 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or turkey breast cutlets or tenders
     1 3/4 to 2 cups chicken stock
     8 oz spaghetti, macaroni, or egg noodles
    4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) +   1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 cups whole milk, half-and-half, or light cream
     2 to 3 Tablespoons sherry (optional)
    Several drops of lemon juice
    Salt and ground pepper
    2 to 3 pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
    8 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 2 1/3 cups)
    ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

    • Place the chicken in a Dutch oven. Add chicken stock. Pour in just enough water to cover pieces. Chicken parts may require as much as 3 cups water to be covered, while boneless, skinless breasts may not need any at all.
    • Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat so that the poaching liquid barely bubbles.
      Partially cover and cook until the meat releases clear juices when pierced with a fork, 25 to 30 minutes for chicken parts, 8 to 12 minutes for boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breast.
    • Remove the meat from the stock and let stand until cool enough to handle. If using chicken parts, remove and discard the skin and bones. Cut or shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Skim the fat from the stock with a spoon.
    • Position the rack in the center of the over. Preheat the oven to 400 F, Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan or other shallow baking dish.
      Cook noodles until tender in a large pot of boiling water.
    • Melt 4 Tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth.
    • Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Whisk in milk.
    • Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture just to simmer, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, scrape the inside of the saucepan with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, and whisk vigorously to break up any lumps.
    • Return the pan to the heat and, whisking, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cooked poultry along with sherry.
    • Cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and season to taste with lemon juice,  salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg.
    • Heat 1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the foam begins to subside. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms into the creamed chicken.  
    • Drain the pasta well, then stir into the chicken mixture along with Parmesan. 
    • Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Mommy Monday

    Have I mentioned lately how much I {love} my kids? Well, I do! I love them tons! I wouldn't trade them for anything.

    Nathanael is still a happy little {chow-hound}. Aside from nursing, he eats between 3 and 4 jars of baby food every day! It's a good thing I make my own, or we would go broke. And he's not even a teenager yet! For those curious, I get a lot of my baby food info from Wholesome Baby Food and the book Super Baby Food. He still thinks that napping from 7:30 - 9:30 pm and then being awake until 11 or later is a good idea, but we're working on that. He {adores} his big sister and would almost rather watch her than eat, almost.

    Kahlen is in such a {fun} stage right now (of course, I think I say that about every stage). She is becoming her own little person more each day.
    Here's the hilarious thing she did the other day:
    Daddy was playing with her fun noodle that she had left out. I was sitting at the table on my computer. Daddy starts tickling my neck with the noodle. Kahlen runs over to him, grabs the thing, and says, very matter-of-fact, "Daddy, Mommy does NOT like that. We're all done playing with that now, I'm going to put it away." and runs off with it to put it away. Can't {imagine} where she's heard that before :)

    Today at lunch, she wanted us to tell jokes while we were eating. Her joke was that she was going to eat Nate's green beans. Then she told me it was my turn, so we took turns making up "jokes" for the next twenty minutes while Nate finished eating.

    Yesterday, she spent over twenty minutes laughing hysterically while flipping her fork on and off the table.

    Last week I came down stairs with earrings on and she said "Mommy, you're the prettiest" awww, how sweet!

    Here's a picture of them in their towels I made for Christmas:

    I would love to hear the things your kids have said recently, I think preschoolers are about the funniest thing ever with what they come up with.

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Thankful Thursday - Girlfriends

    How do you say how thankful you are for people who would do anything for you at any time?
    I have an amazing bunch of girlfriends that fit that description. Childcare? Sure. Last minute? No problem. Need encouragement? Just call. Need to be called out on something? They'll do that too.

    Lately I have just been struck with how blessed I am to be in a community where this is just how it is. We are available to each other, accountable to each other, real with each other. They are willing to offer advice about anything from how I should cut my hair to how I could handle mothering situations to things that have worked for them in their marriage, household, finances, whatever.

    So, ladies, I love you! Thanks for all you do! Here's to many more years of getting to know you even better!


    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Crafty Wednesday - Crafty Blogs

    So here I am, waaaaaay backed up on mystery shop paperwork. Therefore, I just shouldn't take the time to write about some crafty project I have done. Instead this week I am going to give you some links to some great crafty blogs that I follow:

    Somewhat Simple

    Mod Podge Rocks

    From these two, I frequently get lost in blogland for hours because they have such great info and links to more blogs and more and more and you get the idea.

    Here's a couple with great ideas for tots too:

    Confessions of a Homeschooler

    No Time for Flash Cards

    Totally Tots

    Haven't taken the time to fully explore these since I love the curriculum on Hubbard's Cupboard but they definitely have some great ideas.

    So get crafting and let me know what you're working on! I'd love to hear any blogs you've found too :)


    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Tasty Tuesday - Stuffed Jumbo Shells

    I've been making this recipe for years. We would make it as part of cook-for-a-month growing up, so it's a great freezer meal. Today, I'm making a double batch so I can give some to a friend who just had a baby :)

    I realized as I made it today that I don't really follow the recipe, so I'm going to try to write down what I do instead :)

    Ingredients (for a double recipe)
    2 boxes jumbo shells
    3 heads broccoli

    2 tablespoons parsley
    2 pounds mozzarella cheese, grated
    2 large containers small curd cottage cheese
    1/4 cup Parmesan
    8 eggs
    garlic, salt, and pepper, all to taste
    large container spaghetti sauce

    • Cook noodles according to package. Both boxes didn't fit in my 6 quart pot, so I had to cook them in two separate batches. Drain and rinse with cold water.
    • Chop broccoli with food chopper. I don't especially like vegetables, so this is a great way to hide them in my food :) Steam in microwave until almost done. 

    • Put fresh parsley in small bowl and chop with scissors until small.


    • Combine broccoli, parsley, mozzarella, parmesan, cottage cheese, eggs, and seasoning in large bowl. Save about 1/2 cup of mozzarella for top.


    • Spray one (or four) 9 x 13 pans with non-stick spray. Coat bottom with spaghetti sauce, about 1/2 cup per pan


    • This is the easiest way I've found to assemble: place noodles still in strainer next to filling next to sauced pan.

    • To assemble, put about 1 tablespoon (more or less depending on your taste, Tim likes less and I like more) of filling in each shell. Place in prepared pan


    • Cover with sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

    •  Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until middle of shells is hot. You can also freeze and bake later. From frozen, bake for about an hour covered, then uncover and bake until hot, about another 20 minutes. 

    I was going to take a picture as I took them out of the oven, but Tim and I were hungry so here's after we ate our dinner :) 

    You can find the original recipe here
    I ended up making three 9 x 13 and one 9 x 9 pan with this recipe, plenty to eat, share, and have some for later!


    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Mommy Monday - Accessorizing & Pretend

    Just had to post these pictures too...

    Kahlen looks at me the other day and says, "Don't I look beautiful, Mom?" after accessorizing her outfit with hat, necklace, wand, and baby doll.

    Her latest favorite game is making a bed in a laundry basket. I seem to remember doing similar things when I was small :) She can play in there for a really long time, which is great because she usually does it while I'm feeding Nathanael in the morning.

    I love this girl! I love her new found imagination and ability to pretend. I love watching her learn new ways to play. I love how she emulates me. I sometimes can't imagine that anyone could love her more than I do, but then I remember that God does, and he loves me that much too, wow!!

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