Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Shopping Tip

I tend to collect patterns for cute girls dresses, fun pillows, quilts of course.  I keep them in the back of my mind for sales but I feel funny about taking a pattern to a store, especially when it's the store that I bought the pattern at.  Then, voila!  Lightbulb!  I do have a digital camera right?
So now I take a digital picture of the requirements for a pattern and I can access it at the store easily without worrying about the pattern!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reasons to Celebrate

I enjoy celebrations.  A lot.  They're a little bit something different from the everyday and they don't have to be big to be special.

I also think they're a great way to do some theme-based learning with your kids.  In fact, after our little St. Patrick Day's event, I think I want to do more.  But I just can't wait for Easter!
So I found a book.  (Hmmm, I kind've feel like Hermione Granger . . . )
I didn't actually buy this book -- it's quite pricey.  But our local library has last year's edition and that's a great place to start!  I think that most holidays, major and minor, just vary on the day of the week, sometimes the actual date.

These celebrations looked like they would be fun to work with in March:
March 11 -- Johnny Appleseed Day (he has another one in September though -- lucky guy!)
March 15 -- The Ides of March -- If you're studying Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, you have to do it around the Ides of March.  It just makes sense!
March 18-20 -- Sherlock Holmes Weekend.  Ok this one is at the Jersey Shore but why not celebrate in your neck of the woods . . . or beach.
March 19 -- National Quilting Day -- love it love it love it!
March 21-27 -- World Folk Tales and Fables Week.  This one always starts the first Monday of spring.
March 27 (1952) -- The premiere of Singin' in the Rain one of my favorite movies EVER!  It's general release date for the United States was April 11 though so I'll definitely be celebrating next month . . . 

I double-checked all these on the web (not always entirely accurate) but am pretty sure these are correct for 2011.  I'll also be headed back to the library to beat the train for April.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Party

I decided it was time.  I've lived in this area for several months now and am still having a hard time really connecting with people.  So I decided to take drastic measures.  

I threw a party.

Of course, the casual observer most likely would not have considered it a party.  More of a playdate.    But it helped me get to know some people a little better and my munchkin had someone other than mommy to play with.  Actually, it was a lot of fun.  And quite successful I might add.

Since it was adult women and toddler children (and 2 babies), I kept it really simple.

Toys, playtime, and balloons when they walk in the door.  Check.

A St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt for that ever elusive pot of gold.
Which they did find with a little prompting from mom, and mom, and mom.

Lunch.  Delicious check.

Decorate cookies.  Even more delicious check.

Everyone goes home and everyone takes naps (at least at my house) -- very satisfied, pulled off my first party and am happy, check.

And that is one easy formula for a simple gathering that doesn't take a lot of preparation but has some great results.

I loved that it was a playdate (party) with some structure.  The kids did play "together" (still working on the together part), but also had something to focus on and it was a small review of color.  It could so easily be made more educational or to fit older children.  But it worked for toddlers too and that can be difficult to accomplish.

St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt
I wasn't sure how much 2 and 3 year olds would get the idea of leprechauns, so instead we focused on rainbows and that wonderful pot of gold.

Start with a stack of 5 different colors of construction paper.

Cut your rainbow shapes out of the paper.  The paper will probably shift some but you'll still have 5 nesting arcs of each color to swap out.

Reorganize your papers to form a multi-colored rainbow and write your clues on one side.  I also labeled mine with the initial of each child so that when we "found" another piece of the rainbow with it's clue, each child had one that was theirs -- no fighting over colors!

Hide your rainbow pieces so that each part leads to the next smaller one.


Our clues were super simple of course and just had the children go to various rooms in my house to find their pieces.  In between each find, we went back to the living room to tape our rainbow together.  The last piece's clue said "we see rainbows outside, that's where the pot of gold is too!"  So we ran outside and sitting underneath our budding willow tree was their "pot of gold". 

Contents thanks to a quick thinking husband.  Get it?  Goldfish?  And the bubbles -- every kid loves bubbles.

And each child took home their pot of gold prizes as well as their rainbow -- with my dorky little clues in plain view (maybe we should've taped them clue-side down!).

 But ten bucks says that when my husband walks in the door tonight, my little one will run up to him and say "look what I made daddy!".  And that's definitely worth it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fresh Baked Bread

I think toddlers have the right idea.  Even though it can be a little irritating when my 3-year old has to do EVERYTHING herself, I imagine that she is basking in the glorious feeling that comes from BEING ABLE to do everything by herself.  

And that is a glorious feeling that I had a little reminder of.

A few Christmases back, my parents gave us a manual grain mill for our emergency preparedness stock.  I have never even opened it.  But in the spirit of becoming more prepared for an uncertain future (which I think we can all do), I pulled that mill out of the box and cranked it up.  Literally.

Then I took that freshly ground wheat and baked delicious wheat bread for my family.  Of course it was made even more delicious by a nice healthy topping of butter and honey -- oozing off the edges.  And the house smells like freshly baked bread too.  And I spent a little one-on-one time with my 3-year old in the process and put a big smile on my wonderful husband's face.
Homemade bread has more than just body health benefits I think.

And this particular recipe uses all shelf-stable ingredients.   Perfect if you're getting prepared for the future. Which I am.  And, even better, it will be featured on the Food Storage Made Easy blog.  Yippee!!  I highly, highly recommend their blog if you're looking for any information about preparedness.  And I do mean any.  So I'm not posting the recipe yet.  I'll reference you there when they post it.  In the meantime, are you drooling yet?  You should be.

But I also wanted to post a few more things about the milling process itself.
Here's my grain mill:
Very simple, no electricity needed, and actually really easy to use -- if you don't count the fact that I'm working arm muscles I don't ever work.  Well, that's almost all of them actually . . .
Anyway, you put the wheat in the top, turn the handle and voila!
My ground wheat is on the left, store bought wheat is on the right (with a nice little hole where my 3-year old needed to taste it).  You can already tell a difference, but the hand-ground is still very fine.

It's a little grittier of course, more like a fine sand rather than a fine powder like the store-bought (below).
BUT, my bread turned out the same as what it always does -- a little nuttier, wheatier maybe -- but still delightfully delicious.  And now I can make it anytime, anywhere.  Well, almost.  Still working on that alternative way to bake if there is a genuine emergency . . .

But the point is, one less thing to worry about.  And one more thing to celebrate.  Because I did it all by myself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Read Across America Day

Reading should be something that you do every day.  No question.  But it's always nice to have a reason to celebrate!  So in honor of Read Across America Day, here are my picks for something to read:

First pick is for the ladies.  My grandma sent me this one.  I've read Kate Morton's other two books as well (The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton) and this is my favorite by far.  It may take you a minute to really dive in, but it's worth the perseverance.  Morton has a fantastic style and incredible use of vocabulary but a way of writing that you get it -- even if you don't know the word.  The characters are endearing, and creepy, and heart-breaking and the mystery is fantastic.  I didn't guess correctly.  Really.  And I love it when I don't guess correctly.  And, I felt that everything in this novel was relevant -- no side stories that were left on the side of the road to molder (don't you love the word molder?  So appropriate for a post about this book too . . .).  

Second pick is for the little ones:
My FAVORITE Denise Fleming book and it is well loved by all in our house.  So simple and so adorable.  My daughter memorized it when she was 18 months old and to hear her tiny little voice "read" the book was just priceless.  It's a great read for the little little ones and of course serves the double purpose in it's name when you have it in board book format and your baby is teething!

Only two?  Of course not.  But I can't reveal all just for Read Across America Day.  But eventually you'll see lots more here.  Because I can't help but read.  And some days, that's a problem -- mostly on cleaning days.

Writing about books is making me itch to get to the library.  Or better yet, a used book store.