Monday, December 15, 2014

DIY Kids Target Practice

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kindergarten Printable Writing Paper with Picture Box and Name and Date

My son is working on writing and telling stories with pictures and words as he is learning to read at school.  He really loves it and wants to practice at home.  There are a number of books available at stores like Lakeshore Learning (a few of their things are below, with links to amazon).

But he was feeling like the pre-bound books were way too long for his stories.  He wanted just a page or two or three.  So we created a template when an online search didn't have what he wanted.  We made two printables, one with space for name and date, and the other without.  Enjoy!

Here is the writing paper with a box for pictures and name and date lines.

Here is the writing paper with just a box for pictures and lines for story writing.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Kids' Art: Popsicle Stick Snowflakes/ Stars

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Kids' Hanukkah Art: Dreidel Decorating

We have been getting ready for Hanukkah, and I saw this make your own dreidel kit and thought the kids would love it.

This was really fun for both ages (3 and 6).

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kids Art: Make a Dreidel out of a coloring page and a pencil

We found this dreidel coloring page online (I didn't note from where- sorry~!) and cut and glued and taped and attached it to a pencil!  Super fun!!

The little one clutched his for hours.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hanukkah Recipes: Latkes and Cranberry Apple Sauce

Hanukkah is a holiday which celebrates the Jews in the old temple hunkering down during a war with enough oil to last only one night.  But...  the oil lasted in their candelabra for eight nights, which was a miracle.  

It wasn't typically a major holiday until fairly recently, when the Christmas hype and marketing caused people to overestimate its importance and start giving mounds of gifts.  Passover, in the spring, is a much more important holiday, as are Rosh Hashannah (the New Year, celebrated in the fall) and Yom Kippur (ten days after Rosh Hashannah).  

Families typically celebrate Hanukkah, also transliterated into being spelled as Chanukah or Chanukkah, by lighting the candles of the menorah at sundown, adding an extra candle for each night until the slots are all full.  While the menorah is being lit, the family says two prayers (a special one is added on the first night to mark how special it is to be together and start Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights).  The menorah is a special Hanukkah candelabra that is handed down through the generations, and kids in school often make them, so many times families have more than one.  The candles, also specially made for the holiday, are allowed to burn until they are finished, and the menorah was historically placed in the street-facing window to spread the light of the holiday.  

The commercialization of December has added gifts to Hanukkah.  Families used to give gelt, or money, and play games like dreidel and sing songs.  They eat latkes, cooked in oil to again remember the oil that lasted for eight nights.  In Israel they eat donuts for the same reason.  Nowadays families will either give a gift each night, or choose one night to exchange gifts or give the children more than one gift on one night.  Families have different traditions based on what their lineage is (Askenazi or Sephardic), and this is true of many Jewish holidays, especially with the traditional foods, which differ by region.  What is traditionally eaten by Jews whose ancestors are Russian is different than those with Spanish ancestry. 

My great-great grandparents came from Russia and Poland, which makes me Askenazi.  They emigrated to Ellis Island in the middle of the 19th Century.  Growing up, we celebrated Hanukkah with Latkes and Cranberry-Apple sauce, which was my mom's change on the typical apple sauce eaten with latkes.  Others prefer sour cream on their latkes, and I often serve them with dripped yogurt instead.   The menu for Hanukkah isn't really fixed, since it is so many nights, but there is often one night chosen to be celebrated more than the others.  In addition to serving latkes, often a brisket or roasted chicken is eaten, or chicken soup.

Traditional Potato Latkes (almost my Mom's recipe)

Growing up, we got to eat these exactly once per year, on one of the eight nights of Hanukkah.  It was a much-anticipated evening, since making them is so small feat.  I skip the potato peeling as an adult, and it shaves off a lot of the prep time.  We also like to have two skillets working at a time.  My home, however, smells like latkes for a week after making them~ just like it did when I was young. 

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
3 cups potatoes, grated and drained (we use the food processor)
2 T onion, grated
1/4 t. pepper
2 T flour (can substitute white flour with whole wheat, rice, or coconut flour without noticing)
1 t. baking powder
coconut or olive oil for frying

Mix ingredients in large bowl.  Cut open a stack of brown paper bags.  Heat oil about 1/4" deep in skillet.

Place mixture in to hot oil by tablespoonful and flatten.  Fry both sides. Take out onto cut open brown grocery bags, or layer in a Pyrex with the paper in between and keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees.

Serve with applesauce, cranberry-apple sauce, sour cream, or dripped yogurt (cultured cream cheese).  Best served HOT.  Recipe can easily be scaled up or down.

Egg-Free, Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Latkes

My husband and I started making these nearly a decade ago, when I stopped eating potatoes and vegetable oils like canola oil.  I have included an egg-free version, so you can see that substitute binders like flaxseeds and chia work just as well as eggs.  

3 eggs (3 T flaxseed meal or chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup water for at least 10 minutes if egg-free)

3 cups sweet or regular potatoes (or a mix), grated and drained (food processor)
2 T grated onion
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 T flour (rice or coconut flour if gluten free)
1 t baking powder
olive oil for frying

Mix ingredients in large bowl.  Cut open a stack of brown paper bags.  Heat oil about 1/4" deep in skillet.

Place mixture in to hot oil by tablespoonful and flatten.  Fry both sides. Take out onto cut open brown grocery bags, or layer in a Pyrex with the paper in between and keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees.

Serve with applesauce, cranberry-apple sauce, sour cream, or dripped yogurt (cultured cream cheese).  Best served HOT.  Recipe can easily be scaled up or down.

Cranberry Apple Sauce

Boil a bag of cranberries and three cut, cored, and (optionally) skinned apples with a cup of homemade chicken stock and a cinnamon stick. Lower to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Mash with a potato masher if you prefer a different consistency.

Cultured Cream Cheese

Cultured cream cheese is just a fancy way of saying dripped yogurt, or even Greek Yogurt.  This is delicious on crackers or bread, or even as a dip for veggies.

To make it, place your colander into a bowl.  Line it with a cloth (cheesecloth or similar~ even a light dish towel or cloth napkin would work).

Dump a quart or two of full-fat organic yogurt into the colander.  Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Save the liquid~ it is called whey and is useful for fermenting or it is high in probiotics and you could eat it plain or in a smoothie.

Using heads and feet make a thicker stock.  We usually use a carcass from a roasted chicken, and add a third of a pound of chicken heads, a third of a pound of chicken feet, and a few chicken necks.  We get all of our meat from our local meat club CSA Marin Sun Farms.  Their chickens are pastured on the heels of the cows, which is as good as it gets for chickens.
  1. Fill a stock pot with filtered water, the bones, a quartered onion with its peel, 3 roughly chopped carrots, the greens and middles of a head of celery, and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
  2. Bring it to a boil.
  3. Skim off any foam.
  4. Lower to a low simmer, and simmer, covered, for 12 to 24 hours.
  5. Strain and store.  We like to use canning jars and put the lids on while hot so they sort of "can" themselves.  Many recommend to use stock within a week, but we feel like this gives us a bit more time with it.  We store it refrigerated and use it as often as possible-- often in place of water in cooking or just to drink as a beverage with meals.
As long as you are making this, you may as well go ahead and make some chicken soup!  Good ol' Jewish Penicillin.  

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Kids' Cooking: Making Pancake Batter from Scratch

We have been making these pancakes a lot, and my older son, who is in K, wanted me to write out the recipe so he could make the batter.

Now they can make these from start to finish, with only a little hovering by a grown-up.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

V and C Toasty Homemade Hand Warmers

We made two sets of the Homemade Hand Warmers from V and Co in about half an hour this afternoon, including my little helper filling them and helping hand sew up the holes.

They are basically 4" square pouches filled with rice and 3 drops of lavender essential oil.  I microwaved them for 20 seconds to make them warm, but she also says you can freeze them for cold packs.

Can't wait to try these outside!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Actual Thanksgiving Menu - Probably

So... I had plans for Thanksgiving (here).  After some cooking, here is what we have in store for tomorrow. Probably.

First Course

Leek Soup my own recipe, with extra ginger and leeks


Crisp Roast Chicken (Best roast chicken recipe ever)

Vegetarian Stuffing from Trader Joe's (fancy, I know. My husband loves the stuff)

Paleo Stuffing from Paleo Movement - replace beef for pork, skip the nuts (I just forgot them, am not anti-nut), added raisins 1/4 cup

Mashed Cauliflower from Zen Belly - will make this tomorrow

Cranberry Apple Sauce from yours truly - BUT I used pears instead of apples and added some orange zest and an orange- and added a teaspoon of salt.

Third Course

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies from Gourmand in the Kitchen- replace sugar with half as much honey, add 1/4 c. more coconut flour to compensate for texture difference

Pumpkin Custard from Nourished Kitchen (with no whipped cream for topping)

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Menu + Shopping List

First Course

Deviled Eggs (Hard boil 4 eggs, slice in half. Mix yolks with 2 T homemade mayo and 1/2 t. mustard.  Replace into whites.)

Pumpkin Soup (Saute 1 onion and 3 cloves garlic, add 2 cups chopped pumpkin and 1" fresh peeled and chopped ginger, then add 1 1/2 qt. bone broth. Bring to a boil, add 1 t. salt and 1-3 optional chilies.  Lower to a simmer for 25 minutes.  Blend using an immersion blender. Also great with carrots.)

Main Course

Roasted Chicken (Bake a whole chicken in a Pyrex with a sprinkle of sea salt at 350 for 1.25 hours.)

Vegetarian Stuffing from Running in a Skirt

Paleo Stuffing from Paleo Movement

Mashed Cauliflower from Zen Belly

Cranberry Apple Sauce from yours truly

Third Course

Whipped Cream (1 pint raw cream in mixer with 1 T vanilla and 1 t. honey)

Pumpkin Pie Recipe Made w Honey from Prairie Homestead

Pumpkin Custard from Nourished Kitchen

Shopping List

4 Eggs, hard boiled 
6 eggs, fresh
homemade mayo (1 1/4 c. olive oil, 1 egg, 2 T lemon juice, 1/2 t. sea salt, 1/2 t. mustard powder)
1/4 t. mustard

 4 1/2 qt. bone broth

whole chicken
1 lb. ground meat
1 3/4 pints raw cream

2 T lard
2 T coconut oil
stick butter

1 carrot
2 stalks celery
8 apples
2 bell peppers
1 lb. mushrooms
3 bags cranberries
2 cups chopped pumpkin, raw
2 cups cooked and mashed pumpkin
1 head cauliflower
4 onions
5 cloves garlic
1" fresh peeled and chopped ginger

 4 t. sea salt 
1-3 optional chilies
1 T fresh rosemary
1 T fresh thyme
5 T fresh sage
1 T pumpkin pie spice (or 2 parts cinnamon, 3/4 part nutmeg, 1/2 part cloves)
1 T chives, optional
1 cup honey
1 T + 1 t. vanilla

1/2 loaf rice bread, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 c. raisins
1/3 c + 2 T coconut flour
1 1/4 c. flour
4-6 T cold water

+ ingredients for
Pumpkin Custard from Nourished Kitchen (her website is down)

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Recipe: Corn Muffins~ Inspired by Nourishing Traditions

2 c cornmeal
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1\2 c water
1 c buttermilk or yogurt

3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T maple syrup or honey
1 t sea salt
2 t baking soda
1/4 c melted butter

Mix first group of ingredients together. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit 12-24 h (longer is better).
Add other ingredients.

350 for 20 min as muffins or 30 as bread.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chalkboard Paint: Kitchen Cabinet

While we were doing the bedroom wall, we also decided to try the chalkboard paint in the kitchen.  I've seen some nice chalkboard kitchen cabinets with grocery lists, drawings, or menus on them.

I think I know who is going to make use of it...

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chalkboard Paint: Kids' Bedroom Wall

My older son has been really enjoying writing on his huge chalkboard at school and was delighted to hear that they make paint that can turn a wall into a chalkboard.  Figuring we could paint over it if it was a disaster, we taped up a space and went for it.

He actually did most of it~ I guided the corners and the spacing.  The lines are double because we also did a glow in the dark border but we never leave the light on in there long enough to charge it up.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

One Sheet Plywood Boat into Kids' Airplane

 As you recall, we made the one sheet plywood boat this summer.  We had a lot of fun with it in the swimming pool, then ran into a couple of problems.

One problem with the boat was that it was a little hard to see over the keel and be careful of fellow swimmers. Another problem with the boat was the window.  Though extremely cool (as an add-on feature), it let in water.  So we took it off and then attached and sealed it with silicon caulk (I used a disposable latex glove this time- that stuff is HARD to get off your hands!).

The boat was working great until the two issues collided to form problem number three.  There were too many swimmers one hot Indian Summer afternoon in the pool.  So we took the boat out and Little Brother started to climb on and in and around it.  Then he stepped on the window and it popped right out.

So it went back to dry dock.

And there it sat.

Until Big Brother had an Idea.  He wanted to make an airplane.  I spent my usual two days trying to get him to explain and plan his idea and he spent that time trying to get us to Home Depot and drawing a blueprint.

Then we walked past the boat in dry dock and a plan was formed.

First we added wheels.  One wheel on each corner.  One set swivels, and the other set doesn't (that's why they are dragging it backwards all the time).  If I would do this again, I would use larger wheels (these are 2" casters) and have them all swivel.

Then we used the leftover angle pieces from the bow side pieces and made them into a tail (yes, the angle is odd, but that's how we got it to attach and be stable).

Then came the wing, which is a 1x2 drilled into the boat in the middle.  The boys sanded the edges and decorated it.  They later added jets underneath using a dowel cut into four pieces, but it fell off fairly quickly.

We used the circular piece of plywood that had been taken out for the original boat window and attached it onto the boat using a bolt so it would spin as the steering wheel.  We made another for a co-pilot.

They attached a hook to the end, and clipped a rope from the tricycle onto the hook.

They drew a runway on the street with sidewalk chalk and were on their way.

They kept adding and modifying.  On the tail is an exhaust pipe (old juice bottle with PVC fitted in and kept in place with a steel band like you use to attach a water heater to the wall).  On the back is a sink (steel bowl which fits into another piece of plywood with a hole sized for it to sit into).  They took a little cool box (igloo like this but blue) and stocked it with cheese sticks and kept it on board.  They kept talking about pretzels.

Big Brother then changed his blueprint to match the design and got some other ideas. He wanted a top of the fuselage.

So we made a second boat, but didn't waterproof it or paint it, or add a back piece.  We also made the window larger -- to be used as a door.

Other additions have been a back window (plexiglass), and a hatch door for the window-- also of plexiglass.

The kids have made microphones out of PVC scraps.

They need someone to push from behind often, because it is a heavy load (especially with two sheets of plywood now) and the wheels are small.

Another new addition, in green below, are the parachutes.  You stand on top of the airplane, hold out the parachute, and then jump down.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Recipe: Squash Pancakes - Paleo/ GAPS

1 cup cooked squash or sweet potato
1 cup almond butter
5 eggs
1/2 t. sea salt
1 T. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
fat for frying (butter, coconut oil, lard)

Mash ingredients together and mix until smooth.  Heat cooking fat in skillet (we use a thin cast iron) on medium-high.  I am generous with the amount of fat-- it ends up about 2T per 6 pancake load.

Drop pancake batter into fat.  I use a 2T measuring cup (half of a quarter cup).  When one side starts to bubble, flip.  Wait a little bit, then they are done.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Kids Carpentry Idea: Picture Frame

We were at the candy store, I mean Home Depot, the other day.  We found a bit of wood in the hobby aisle, and thought to make a picture frame.  We found a piece of plexiglass 8x10 in the glazing aisle and we were on our way.

We came home and mitred the corners using a hand saw and the mitre box, then glued them together with wood glue and held the wood glue in place while it dried with painter's tape.

This is where our design could use some help.  We pre-drilled holes in the plexiglass so it wouldn't shatter, and screwed through the glass and frame to attach it.  You could do two sheets of plexiglass and slide a photo between.

On the back, we mounted picture mounting hardware and my son wrote his name.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kids Fall Art Idea: Acorn/ Cork Art

Our neighbor showed us the acorn hearts she and her kids made and they looked so great, the kids wanted to come right home and make the same!

So we collected acorns on the walk home, then cut some cardboard.  You see one child wanted a heart and the other wanted an acorn shape.

When we laid them out, we didn't have enough acorns to fill in the whole thing.  So we supplemented with the cork collection.

To make the art pieces, we poured glue all over the cardboard, and then spread it out.

Then the kids laid in their acorns and corks.

I love how they each chose to lay their acorns and cork, and how the pieces look.  

Fall decorations!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recipe: Kale Chips

How to make your kid ask, "Where's my Kale?"

1 bunch kale, curly red is best
1 t. sea salt
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Tear kale into bite sized pieces. Lay kale on baking sheet.  Pour in olive oil and sea salt and incorporate with hands.

Bake for 5-7 minutes on one side, then flip and bake another 5-7 minutes.  Watch closely- these burn quickly.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chalkboard Paint: Kitchen Cabinets and Sight Words, Lowercase b vs. d and p

We did some chalkboard paint in one of the kid's bedrooms, then on a lower kitchen cabinet.  Now we added two more cabinets in the kitchen.  Our concern was the chalk dust on the counters, and I am pleased to say it hasn't been an issue.

AND-- we can practice some pesky sight words and lowercase letters that look similar.  

My older son also asked why we spent so much time in preschool learning uppercase letters, and now, in K, everything is in lowercase!  That's a good point.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Xtracycle Rain Cover and Sun Shade using Hooptie and Upside Down Kitchen Cart

There is a rumor that it rains in Northern California in the winter, and we actually witnessed the rain last week.  On that day, we decided it was time to make the rain cover we have been talking about forever.

It turns out that a rolling cart I had in the garage from The Container Store was nearly the same size as the Hooptie.

I took the wheels and middle racks off, flipped over the  upper rack, zip tied it onto the hooptie, and we were in business.

I happened to have a small bit of the same fabric left that I made the cushions and side bag out of (an Amy Butler Laminated Cotton), so I laid it on top and hand stitched it on.  

The boys liked it.  Then my taller boy said it was a bit short with his helmet on, so he wedged the cart frame up, and added more zip ties.  I am thinking of buying a clear vinyl and making roll-up sides and front and back to protect them more from the weather.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I hate it!  It slows me down and makes the kids feel squished.  BUT- it was useful one day when I had to bring a booster seat to school.  We tied it on top.

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