Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween crafts

We had our first set of Halloween craft days yesterday.  We were expecting 22 kids so we had to come up with a way to make things move smoothly.  We set up different stations and had the moms move with their children to each station.  There were 5 different crafts to do, for different skill levels.  These ideas came from all over the place.  Some were from The Mailbox, teaching magazine.  I have been picking these up from the library for preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade just to get some new ideas!

The first was just simply drawing pictures on black construction paper with yellow and white crayons.  Even the youngest can do this one!
 Next up, coffee filter bats.  I got this idea both from Frugal Family Fun blog, and Kaboose web site.  Use washable markers in purple, brown, grey or black.  Color the coffee filter, and "paint" with water over what you colored.  It gives it a water color type look.  Let it dry.  When it is dry, fold in half, cut points in the non-folded half, and wrap a half of a black pipe cleaner around the middle.
 This one is from my co-organizer Amanda!  She picked up black plates and cut slits all around.  Next we wrapped grey or white yarn around the plate to make a spider web.  The kids could then attach a plastic spider ring to the web!
 We were going to do candy corn sun catchers, but with the amount of kids we were having we felt this would be easier.  I drew a candy corn shape on some white computer paper.  I then ripped orange and yellow construction paper in pieces.  The kids glued the pieces to the shape.  Very easy for kids of all ages to do.
 This is one I got from The Mailbox.  We cut 8's out of black construction paper, and 8 legs for each one.  We got to talk about how sipiders have 8 legs.  Then we added 4 eyes to each one.  I think this one was one of the favorites!
 This one was also from Amanda.  She made a copy of different leaves and cut them out.  The kids then colored each leaf.  We cut the middle out of some paper plates we had left over from the group picnic.  The kids then glued their colored leaves around the outer rim of the plate.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Apple Tree craft

Another day, another craft!  Like I said, there are so many fun things to do in the fall, that I have to squeeze them all in somehow.  This is another one I saw in The Mailbox a teaching magazine.  A friend of mine gave me these large rolls of heavier white paper that her husband's work is done using.  So I cut large sheets off, one for each of us.  I used a brown marker and drew 2 lines to show where the tree trunk would be.  I let the kids color in the trunk.  Then using leaf shaped cookie cutters and washable green paint, we stamped green leaves on the top of our tree.  Let that dry for a little while.  I picked up some red bingo markers from Dollar Tree, and we used those to make our apples.  The kids really did love doing this, and have already asked me today what craft we can do.  This was super easy, lots of fun, and not very messy at all!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Apple Recipes

Since we went apple picking and had over 51lbs. of apples on hand, I had to come up with some ways of using them.  I didn't want to do the typical apple pie, because frankly, I don't like apple pie.  So I started to explore.  First up, applesauce!  I had never made applesauce before so I wanted to give it a try.  My friend A gave me this suggestion:
For every 4 mid-size apples (peeled, cored, chopped), add 1c apple juice or cider. Boil in a large pot on the stove until the apples squish with the side of a spoon. Mash by hand or blender for the consistency you like, then add the spices of your choice.  I really liked this!!!

Next came an apple cherry crisp that I made from the book The Happy Baker by Erin Bolger
Her's is an apple cranberry crisp, but I had cherries instead.  I LOVED this one!!!

I'm not Dutch Apple Crisp:

4 cups of apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups frozen cranberries (or cherries), thawed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.
2.  In a large bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, cranberries, sugar and cinnamon.  Pour into prepared dish.
3.  In a medium bowl, cream together the flour, butter, and brown sugar; mix well.  Stir in the oats and salt.  Sprinkle evenly over fruit mixture.
4.  Bake for 40 mins or until fruit is tender and topping is browned.

This one was my favorite out of the 2 crisp recipes that I tried.  I loved it warm with freshly whipped cream.

The other apple crisp that I tried was from Family Fun magazine.  I won't post the recipe but I will post the link.  http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/fabulous-fruit-crisp-941584/
I don't have pictures of either of these because they all went way too quickly!

And the last thing I have made so far was the America's Test Kitchen Apple Dapple cake.  This was good, but just didn't hit the spot for me. (Although I have been eating it warmed up for breakfast the past few days ;-)

This recipe is:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4' pieces
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Brown Sugar glaze:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tbsp. butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tbsp. milk

1.  Adjust rack to middle postion and heat oven to 350.  Grease 16 cup tube pan.
2.  Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla together with an electric mixer on medium speed until thick and glossy, about 2min.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the flour mixture, in 3 additions, until just incorporated.  Stir in the apples and nuts.
3.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Wipe any drops of batter off the sides of the pan and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter.  Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 50 to 60 mins, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
4.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 min.  Run a small knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, then flip it out onto a wire reack.  Turn the cake right side up and let it cool completely, about 2 hours.
5.  Boil all the ingredients together for the glaze in a small saucepan over medium high heat until thick and syrupy, 1-2 in.  Drizzle the thick glaze over the top and sides of the cake.  Let the glaze set, about 25 min, before serving.

Some other apple recipes:

That wretched interloper
Soft Ginger Apple Cookies
Mini Applesauce Muffins

Frank and Pumpkins

If you couldn't tell, the kids and I love to do crafts. (Well, Adam does too)  And right now there are so many fun things to do, there just isn't enough time to do them all.  We started a count down to halloween, where we do something fun each night.  Last night we did crafts.  We made a pumpkin patch with orange bingo stampers, and footprint Frankenstein monsters.  The Monsters were made by painting the bottom of the foot (or hand) green, and then the toes (or fingers) black.  Stamp onto a piece of white paper, and let dry.  We let ours dry overnight.  Then this morning we used markers to finish the faces up.  The kids loved doing this.  Anytime they can paint their hands or feet, they are in.  We made sure to do this on the kitchen floor and I had wet wipes or a wet towel at the ready to wipe them down right away.  We really didn't have a mess at all!  I'll hang the pictures up in the living room and kitchen to help with the decorations!  Next week we are doing a HUGE craft day for the mom's group, and I will be sure to post pictures and instructions on all of those craft as well.

 L's pumpkin patch
 D's pumpkin patch
 Adam's, his is a little fancier then the others
 Adam and I did our hands.  Gee can you guess which one is Adam's?
 The kids frank'n'feet
 The paint said it was washable.  I don't think so.
 The kids finished monsters.  L's in on the top and D's is on the bottom.
My Frank'n'hand

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monster Mash!

I hosted a monster mash play date at the library this week in preparation for the Halloween season!  I saw the monster face craft that we did in a teacher's magazine that I checked out from the library called The Mailbox.  I had it set up so the kids could make either boy or girl monsters, and had all the pieces cut out for them.  We also had some monster coloring pages, and snacked on Frankenstein rice krispie treats!  The treats were made by using green food coloring in with the marshmallows, and then adding a little bit more once I added the rice krispies. 

The books we read were:
Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley 
Dracula and Frankenstein Are Friends by Katherine Tegen
Monster Manners by Joanna Cole
and Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

 I found this idea on this blog

Indoor camp out!

A week or so ago I had an indoor camp out for the mom's group.  We held it at the local library in one of the large conference rooms.  I set up an indoor play tent, we had a fake fire, "roasted" marshmallows, made smores, sang songs, read stories, and ate trail mix.  The kids had a blast!  Adam made the fire for me out of paper towel rolls, and construction paper.  The marshmallows that we "roasted" were squares of white paper glued together only on 3 sides, and then had a large popsicle stick inserted.  That way the kids could remove the "marshmallow" and put them on top of the graham crackers and chocolate we had ready for them.  The crackers were just simply squares of cardboard, and the chocolate was squares of brown or black construction paper.  The crafts were very simple but the kids enjoyed every second of it!

The stories we read were:  Scare a Bear by Kathy-jo Wargin 

and Just me and my Dad by Mercer B. Mayer

camp fire
marshmallow ready for roasting

smores ready to go!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall craft time

I organize a local mom's group, and we try to do at least one craft and story day for each holiday, or season.  Sometimes these are difficult to come up with, and others and so easy there are too many to choose from.  We have many ways of finding these, but the web is the easiest way to do it.  In September is Grandparent's day, and let me tell you, there are not many craft ideas out there for little ones to do.  Last year we did the typical popsicle stick picture frames.  I didn't want to do that again, so I was determined to find something else.  Well I came up with one on my own.  I cut out a capital G from some cardstock (1 per child), I then punched a few holes in the center of the letter G, place a piece of tape over those holes, and press onto a sheet of construction paper.  I bought a package of kitchen sponges from Dollar Tree, cut them in half, wrapped a rubber band around the top (to make a handle), and then cut a bunch of "legs".  I poured some washable paint on a paper plate, and let the kids dip the sponges into the paint, and then on the paper.  Once the paint is dry you can easily pull up the letter G and write a sweet message to the grandparents in there.  The kids had a blast!  They turned out great.

We also did leaf rubbings at home.  Our friend gave us a large roll of plain white paper, so I cut a large sheet for each child, headed outside to find some different leaves, and sat us down on the kitchen floor.  I really think using the larger size paper made it easier, and more fun for the kids to do.

Another craft we did, I borrowed from the Frugal Family Fun Blog.  She has amazing cheap ideas for crafts with the kids.  You NEED to check it out!!  For this one, you cut a toilet paper tube in half and squeeze it into a leaf shape.  I squeezed the paint onto paper plates for the kids, and they dipped the tubes in the paint, and then onto the piece of paper.  Again, another hit!  I really think the kids LOVE to paint.

 Letter G for Grandparent's Day
toilet paper tube leaf prints
Fall leaf rubbings

Apple Picking 2010

It's hard to believe that this is our 3rd year apple picking now.  Boy the kids grow up quickly!  This was a last min. choice to go.  If it was up to Adam, we would have passed on it this year.  But it means a lot to me to go, so we went.  We always go to Garwood Orchard, they have the most amazing produce, tons of U-pick options, and perfect prices!  The kids just LOVE to pick anything for us to eat.  I never have to worry about them not wanting to eat it, thank goodness!  We headed out on a tractor drawn wagon to the orchard.  We brought with 2 large reusable bags, and I'm happy that we didn't bring more.  We ended up picking over 51 lbs. of apples within 10 min.  Both kids had fun, but L was all over it this year!  He would go to a tree, have 3 in his hand, and one he was eating each time he went.  I think the boy ate at least 4 apples while we were just picking!  But thanks to his enthusiasm we were done before you knew it.  He was also entertainment for anyone out there with us.  The best was when a pretty college aged girl walked past with her mother, L offered to help them and go with them.  Adam packed us a lunch, so we paid for our bounty, headed back to the car, and had some lunch.  I have already made a GIANT batch of apple sauce, an cherry apple crisp, and we have eaten a number of apples, but there are still so many left.  I think it's time for some pies....

Adam wanted to pick them both up on his shoulders and take a picture, they were not cooperating, and this was the end result!

2010 Open Book Festival

Every year our local library puts on an amazing event called the open book festival.  They invite children's musicians, authors, illustrators, and puppeteers to come and talk and perform.  There are related kids crafts upstairs in the story room, and the best part is that the entire thing is free!  There are books given away and story book characters to meet.  And each year there are new ones brought in.  My kids love it, but I think I love it more than they do.  This year was great.  They go to meet Curious George, Peter Rabbit, Max from Max and Ruby, Martha from Martha Speaks, the Cat in the Hat, oh and the Mouse from If you give a mouse a cookie!  What a fantastic time.  Thank you library!!!

Baked goodies!

I have been a busy bee over here baking now that the weather has cooled off.  I don't have a/c and it just gets WAY too hot in the house during the summer.  So now I'm on like overload.  There are just way too many things that I want to bake.  I did have a few orders that I included here for you.  I also made some pumpkin whoopie pies, but can't seem to find the picture.  Those I got from a great little blog I found called  Bake at 350!  I used her recipe for the cookies, and then the America's Test Kitchen recipe for the cream.

A first birthday giant and smash cupcake set.
 We did a clock play date and I made these for a healthy snack.  It's a whole grain English muffin, lowfat cream cheese, pretzels, and raisins. 
 I had some leftover cupcakes, so I decorated them for just the 4 of us.  That is leftover icing, and Necco waffers.

A pool set for my mom's husband for his birthday.  I found this in the book, Hello Cupcake!

Some snickerdoodle cupcakes for my brother's birthday.  These are from good old Martha!

And this was an order for a 4 year old's 50's themed party.  The picture was taken before I pulled the parchment out from under it.  I think it turned out pretty fun.  Got the idea from here.

Last ball game of the season.

At the beginning of September we noticed that it was the last home game of the season for the South Bend SilverHawks.  We had tried to go once a month throughout the entire season, but missed the month of August.  They have amazing deals where they have dollar Mondays.  Adam noticed that the last game was also going to have fireworks.  He felt bad that we missed fireworks on the 4th of July due to car trouble coming home, so he jumped right on it.  Lo and behold, he got us tickets directly behind home plate, first row!  We got there and found out even better news, they were doing $1 pop, hot dogs, popcorn, candy!  So we loaded up on junk and set out to watch the game.  L loved it because we were right next to the tunnel where everyone comes out to the field.  He got to see the Cardinal Fitness bird, broccoli, carrot, and pea, and he got to see the kids that went out and raced on the field.  They did a pretty good job of sitting there throughout the entire game, and even entertained the people sitting in our section.  Then came the fireworks.  It was a great show!  After all that fun, they let the kids come out on the field and run the bases.  L and D were so thrilled, L actually ran around them twice!  They were given a Chipotle kids meal coupon when they came in.  What a fantastic family night, for very little money.  We can't wait for next baseball season!

 A shot from our seats
 Happy family!

L was hot and tired, but so happy he was on the field

That is one excited girl!

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