Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Preschool Fine Motor Skills

Disclaimer:  This blog has morphed from newsy "keep the parents up to date" blog into a combination of that plus homeschooling stuff I'm trying to remember plus  "online scrapbook" for when the kids grow up.  Sorry Grandparents, some of these posts are probably downright boring to you!

I saw an idea on Pinterest to use egg cartons with colored paper in them to help little ones sort by color.  My thought on the matter was why not use plastic Easter eggs in the cartons for double the fun?

Of course we were limited to the colors of eggs Mama could easily reach!  In this example we're using Skittles but we have since started using buttons.  They don't care about the candy as much as the sorting so the buttons are fun because I will let them have a lot of buttons but only a few candies.

This set up (times 3 of course) is now stored in my "Preschool in a Box" which I will remember to write about one of these days!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Home Arts and School

When I was in high school, each semester for 3 years, we chose between home economics, wood-shop or mechanics.  I chose Home Ec all but once, and loved it.  Home Ec is a thing of the past in schools today, as much due to economics as to politics.

Home education is the perfect venue for Home Ec.  Now that both older girls are in their teens, it seems an appropriate time to introduce (or in some cases, review) these home arts.  I was working on a modern Home Ec syllabus when I happened on this list of 15 life skills our kids need. Some of these were perfect additions to my Home Ec course.

I don't know if I will be homeschooling the "Littles." My official line is that I won't, but our homeschool lifestyle has provided so many blessings, I'm keeping it in the "back up plan" department.  If these three ever use my Home Ec syllabus, I will revise it based on their interests and what I think they need to know at that time.

After all this work, I've decided to share it.  Why not?  One caveat, this Google.doc is a working document for me, so I will be changing and adjusting it as I work my way through it.  If you use it and want it to remained unchanged, I recommend you save a copy for yourself.  That way you can edit it, as well. I have linked it here, enjoy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Honey Bun Cake

I made this last week for the kiddos.  They assured me it was delicious and tasted like actual honey buns.  I dared not eat it lest I run the whole ship into an iceberg!

This recipe is from the Cake Doctor cook book.  That means it's easy!
    • 1 (18 ounce) packages yellow cake mix
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • ¾ cup vegetable oil
    • 4 large eggs 
    • 13 cup honey
    • 1⁄3  cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ cup nuts, finely chopped  (I did not use)
    • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 13 cup milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine all the cake ingredients and set aside.
  2. Thoroughly combine the filling ingredients.
  3. Pour the batter into the pan.  Top with the filling, then swirl with a  knife.  Not too much!
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 38-40 minutes in a 13x9" greased baking pan. Meanwhile prepare the sugar glaze.
  5. Cool cake on wire rack for 10 minutes.
  6. While still warm, poke holes in the cake and pour the glaze over it.  Serve warm!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Birthday Boy!

It's hard to believe, but The Captain is 5.  Can it be?  The Blitz -- right now -- is the exact age The Captain was when they all arrived.  He seems so little!

The Captain, on the other hand, seems SO big!  All of a sudden, all his size 5s look too small and I had to order enough clothes to get him through the cold season.  Grandma gave him some birthday money so he will get to pick out some clothes and maybe a toy.  It seems they have so many toys.

I got up this morning and The Blitz said, "Hey, that's a birthday cake!"  (Imagine that with a Brooklyn-ish accent.  We don't know where his inner New Yorker comes from!)  I said, "Yes, guess whose birthday it is?"

The Captain jumped up and yelled, "It's my birthday, mom?  Really?  I'm 5 now?"  This is huge for him.  SO much talking.  Anyway, here's a peek at the big day so far:

I ordered pizza, everyone's favorite.  Then we waited for the cake.

One of us was not a gracious waiter.

This "Dandy Lion" cake was baked and decorated by Pepper.  It's a "Cut-Out" cake from the original antique books I got from Mom.  We had cut-out cakes when we were kids and my kids have had them too.  I better make a copy of those books and store them in a safe place!

Then he blew all the candles out on the first try.  He wished for a bat.  He didn't know not to tell!

Finally, trying out the bat.  (Sorry for the fuzzy video; not sure why it is like that!)

Thanks, Daddy, for coming home on your lunch hour.  It's really hard to wait all day when you are only 5!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fantastic Fish Pie

It's Lent.  It's yummy.  And no, I didn't eat it (calories), but everyone else loved it.  All that said, I can't really take credit because it's Jamie Oliver's recipe.

Fantastic Fish Pie
 Jamie Oliver from The Return of the Naked Chef
(My notes are in italics; the photos are mine) 

6 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch squares
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 free-range eggs
2 large handfuls fresh spinach, trimmed and washed
1 onion, finely chopped (I don't use the onion)
1 carrot, halved and finely chopped (we like the carrot chunky)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pint double cream (I use light cream or just milk)
2 good handfuls grated mature Cheddar or Parmesan
juice of 1 lemon
1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
455gr/1 lb haddock or fresh cod fillet, skin removed, pin-boned and sliced into strips (use whatever you have; I've used halibut, snapper and crappy)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Nutmeg, optional

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas6.  (We do 350 for 30 min)

Put the potatoes into salted boiling water and bring back to a boil for 2 minutes. Carefully add the eggs to the pan and cook for a further 8 minutes until hard boiled, by which time the potatoes should also be cooked. At the same time, steam the spinach in a colander above the pan. This will only take a minute. When the spinach is done, remove from the colander and gently squeeze any excess moisture away. Then drain the potatoes in the colander. Remove the eggs, cool under cold water, then peel and quarter them.  Place to one side.

In a separate pan slowly fry the onion and carrot in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes, then add the double cream, and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, lemon juice, mustard, and parsley.

Put the spinach, fish and eggs into an appropriately sized earthenware dish and mix together, pouring over the creamy vegetable sauce. 
(before pouring on the sauce)

The cooked potatoes should be drained and mashed, add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a touch of nutmeg, if you like.  (we use butter instead of olive oil here)
Spread on top of the fish. Don't bother piping it to make it look pretty, it's a homely hearty thing. Place in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are golden.

Serve with some nice peas or greens, not forgetting the baked beans and tomato ketchup. Tacky but tasty, and that's what I like.
And here is the picture 2 minutes after I put it on the table -- I was just a little too slow!
Try it and let me know how much you love it too!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Assorted Sweetness

Just a little love-bug catch up here:

Pepper gave Tink's hair a tune-up:

 Next . . . never serve beets with chicken to a toddler.  It looks scary.

 And finally for your viewing pleasure, I bring you:  Ninja Tot!

(I'm sorry.  Blogspot hates me and I can't imbed the clip.  Just clink on the words "Ninja Tot."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My First Blog Award

Months ago, my friend and fellow homeschooler, Becky of Becky's World, named my blog a Liebster Blog.   The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning ‘dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.’   I was so honored to have Becky apply these terms to my blog.  Thank you, Becky!

While my blog is a mostly informal story of our family life, Becky's is a thoughtful and challenging blog about the day's issues as seen through the eyes of the mother of 9.  Becky always gives me something to ponder.  I hope you will not only check out her blog, but "follow" it as well.  

To keep this award going, those who have received it pass it along to new deserving blogs of her (or his) choice. The recipient must then recognize five other bloggers with less than 200 followers that have really stood out in the crowd.
The rules for the Liebster Award are:
1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to their blog.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know!
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog post.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too!
  I read a lot of blogs, so narrowing this list to five was challenging. That's why it took me so long to "accept" the award!  My 5 Liebster Blog pics are:
Bohnenhase is a truly excellent blog.  The author, Mokiko, lives in Frankfurt, Germany and she creates the most amazing bentos.  She also posts beautiful photos not only of her bento creations but of all sorts.

Moment by Moment is written by a retired teacher, Jimmy Earl.  I just adore him.  He is often very evoking and always honest.  Reading Jimmy's blog is like getting a letter from a friend.

Lovely Shades of Green is written by a mother of two. I like this simple blog of a creative young woman.  Well, I secretly want to be her, but hey, who wouldn't?  I think she will be surprised to get this award because I am a "lurker" on her blog!

Watkins Every Style Beans is fast becoming one of my favorites!  This is one innovative, energetic young mother.  Her spirit is so evident in her posts and though she is about half my age, I learn from her every day.
Finally, a treasure of a blog and very unique is Long Live the Weeds.  This young woman with a master's in English converses with her readers about  poetry.  I love poetry, I am intrigued by her selections and I love her reviews.

Please take time to check out all these blogs and see if there is anything here that speaks to you.  There were so many blogs I would love to nominate but I tried to give you some diversity and I limited my selection to blogs with frequent posts.  I hope you will check out and follow some of these wonderful blogs.  Enjoy!

Leap Day

Our Leap Day plans went great.  We did everything except the swimming; our friends were sick and it takes a village to swim with three preschoolers.  I did not take a lot of pictures but here are a couple. 
Lily pad pancakes and frogs

Not too scary a green inside

Thumbprint art - Pepper decorated this one.

If I can make these, anyone can

Frog hunt

Seems like yesterday the Bigs were Littles

I found a stick!

This was the only frog we found!

Well I accidentally cut both legs the same way but it is still cute and the kids loved it.