Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - Popsicle Stick Pencil Holder

Materials Needed:

  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Paint
  • Bathroom Tissue Roll or Tin Can
  • Cardboard
  • Rubber Bands
  • Craft Glue
  • Paint Brush
  • Scissors

Paint the craft sticks whatever color or colors you like.Let them dry. You cn also leave the craft sticks their natural color if you prefer.
If you are using a bathroom tissue roll, cover one of the holes with a circle cut from cardboard. Trace around one of the bathroom tissue roll ends onto the cardboard, cut it out, and glue it onto the end of the bathroom tissue roll.
Glue the painted craft sticks around the outside of the bathroom tissue roll or tin can until it is completely covered. Once you are done gluing on the craft sticks, wrap a few rubber bands around the can to hold the sticks in place until the glue dries.
Make several in different sizes. You can also embellish the cans with wooden shapes, buttons, sequins, or any other craft supplies you have on hand.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Wellness - Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 2 cups smooth or crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 2 cups Splenda
  • 2 large eggs
  • (optional:3/4 cup of oatmeal, and a teaspoon of vanilla)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Thoroughly mix together the peanut butter,Splenda , and eggs in a bowl. Drop mixture by spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until center appears dry, about 8 minutes. 
  4. Allow time to cool before eating.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - Make Your Own ISpy

Container Options: Empty peanut butter jar, 2 liter bottle, Ziploc bag
Uncooked white rice
Various items (see below for ideas)

Put the rice and treasures in the jar, making sure to leave an inch or so of space between the top of the rice and the lid as you want the rice to be able to move freely inside the jar.

The fillings may include beads (these are my favorite–so much variety!), foam shapes (you can make your own), card stock paper punches, ribbon, paper clips, a tiny picture of your child, puzzle pieces, legos, miniatures, beans, popcorn seeds, googly eyes, shells, little bells, small Christmas decorations, and confetti, Penny, mini clothes peg, button (I may use more in different colors/shapes), small silk flower and leaf, small dice safety pin (I plan to hot glue it closed), small hair clip, small letters of some kind, marble, pair of googly eyes

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Wellness - Sugar Free Rugelach

  • 1 cup margarine
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons Splenda
  • 1 1/2 cup apricot spreadable fruit
  1. Cream together the margarine and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend in the vanilla. Mix in the flour. Chill the dough.
  2. To make the Filling: Mix together the chopped raisins, chopped walnuts, Splenda and cinnamon. If you have a food processor, place the whole walnuts and raisins into the bowl, sprinkle with the cinnamon, and chop them together by processing in short pulses.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a 10 - 12 inch circle 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured board or between two sheets of waxed paper.
  4. Spread a light layer of preserves (approximately 2 tablespoons) onto each dough circle. Sprinkle each circle with approximately 1/4 cup of the chopped nut-raisin-cinnamon mixture.
  5. Cut each circle into 16 wedges using a pastry cutter or a pizza cutter. Roll each wedge from base to point. Place point down on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 375 degrees F (or until golden). Remove to racks to cool.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Family Funtime - Make a Family Newsletter

Give your family communication a whole new twist with a Family Newsletter.  They are fun, educational, and more importantly a great way to keep families connected. For those families with grandparents or relatives living in different cities, they may want to send a copy to Grandma, Granddad, or Aunt Sue to help them stay in touch.  The important thing is to get everyone involved and make it something everyone enjoys.  Filling out the envelope and attaching a hand written letter will help to develop writing skills and learn how to address and envelope. 

This can be made using any word processing program on a computer, or it can be handwritten.  Be sure to include an important photo of the family from the previous month. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - Egg Carton Trashcan

  • 7 egg cartons
  • Pipe cleaners --> 3 or 4 should be enough
  • 9" aluminum pie plate (gently used (and cleaned) pie plates work great)
  • A plastic shopping bag to use as a liner
  • Scissors (that you don't mind cutting pipe cleaners with)
  • Hole Punch
  1. Take your egg cartons and carefully remove the tops to all of them by gently tearing along the seam that connects the top to the bottom. Discard the tops of the cartons.
  2. Take one of the bottoms and punch 3 holes down each side so that the holes are tucked in the little nooks between egg cups and evenly spaced. Continue doing this to all the egg carton bottoms. The photo below depicts the hole placement. 
  3. Set egg carton bottoms aside. Now take your pipe cleaners and cut them all up into roughly 3" long pieces. Set aside.
  4. Now take two of your egg carton bottoms and place them side-by-side and right-side-up. Your punched holes should line up. Start at the holes at one end. Take one of your pipe cleaner cuts and push both ends through the two side-by-side holes that are now lined up.
  5. Flip both cartons over. Take the two pipe cleaner ends that are sticking through and twist them together. Bend them and tuck the sharp ends in to create a fuzzy looking nub.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the two cartons are tied together. Now take another carton and tie it to the bunch. Keep repeating this until all 7 egg carton bottoms have been tied together side-by-side.
  7. Stand the bunch upright with the inside of the egg cartons facing you. Nuzzle the aluminum pie plate in the lowest layer of egg nooks and curl the the egg cartons around it so that the pie plate is acting as the bottom of your waste basket.
  8. Now tie the first egg carton bottom to the last.
  9. Line your new receptacle with a plastic shopping bag.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Wellness - Pretzel Snack

  • 24 ounces bite-size pretzels
  • 1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat an oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C).
  2. Combine the melted butter and onion soup mix in a bowl; stir. Add the pretzel pieces; toss to coat. Spread the coated pretzels into the bottom of a large baking dish.
  3. Bake the pretzels in the preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow pretzels to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Recipe

* Green pepper
* English muffin
* Cheddar cheese

1.To make one, slice a green pepper crosswise near the pointed end to get a small, three-lobed shamrock shape. (If your pepper has four lobes, you've got a lucky clover instead.) Cut a small slice for a stem.
2.Toast half an English muffin, then top it with a slice of Cheddar and the pepper shamrock. Place the muffin on a tray, then broil it in a toaster oven until the cheese is melted.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Pretzel Recipe

  • waxed paper
  • 3 yogurt covered mini pretzels
  • 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • green icing
  • decorating sugar
  1. To make a batch, cover a work surface with a sheet of waxed paper. For each clover, arrange three yogurt-covered mini pretzels and a pretzel section as shown.
  2. Combine 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil with 1/4 cup white chocolate chips and melt them together in the microwave according to the chips' package directions. Dab the mixture between the pretzel pieces to adhere them. Let the chocolate harden.
  3. Working with one clover at a time, pipe the edges and stem with green icing (we used a #8 round piping tip), then quickly sprinkle it with decorating sugar (we used white, light green, and dark green).
To save sugar, sprinkle each clover on a small piece of waxed paper. After you've covered a few treats, use the paper to funnel the extra sugar back into its jar.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - Egg Carton Craft Springtime Grass Growing

Celebrate the arrival of spring by bringing this fuzzy critter to life!
Begin by mixing 3/4 cup of potting soil and 2 tablespoons of grass seed in a bowl. Add water to moisten the mixture, then set it aside.

Cut away a three-cup section of an egg carton, then trim the section along the longer edges so that your grassapillar will look the same from both sides. With a permanent marker, draw a face on one end as shown. Gently spoon the seed mixture into the cups.

Set your creation on a dish in a brightly lit spot and keep the soil moist. The grass should sprout in about a week.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Multiplication Facts Tips and Tricks

Zero and One Times Tables :: Could This Get Any Easier?
Check this out: if you multiply ANYTHING by zero, the answer is zero. Anything. 4 x 0 = 0 and 1,000,000 x 0 = 0. One times tables are almost as easy. Any number multiplied by one is always itself. "Huh," you say? Well, check it out: 1 x 10 = 10, 1 x 42 = 42, 8,726 x 1 = 8,726. Simple, right?

Two Times Tables :: Double Your Pleasure

When you multiply a number by two, you just double that number. That's some pretty simple math, even for the most numerically challenged of us. So, if you want to figure out what 2 x 7 is, you just add 7 + 7 (the answer is 14, by the way). Any number times two is the same as that number PLUS itself. Here's one more example: 2 x 5 is the same as 5 + 5, which equals 10. Practice a couple -- it's really easy.

Four Times Tables :: Double, Double Trouble

OK, so now that you have the twos figured out, it's time to get doubling again. This is not as confusing as it may sound. When you multiply four with anything, you have to use the doubling-up trick (that's the one you used for the two times table) twice. Here's an example: 4 x 7 is the same as 7 + 7 = 14 and then 14 + 14 = 28. So 4 x 7 = 28. Here's another double, double example: 4 x 10 is the same as 10 + 10 = 20, so then 20 + 20 = 40. So the answer is 4 x 10 = 40.

Five Times Tables :: It's Why You Have Fingers

First things first - can you count to five? Yeah? Then you can figure out your five times tables. So, when you want to multiply a number by five you just count up by fives that may times. Let's review how to count by fives: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25... and so on. Got it? So if you want to multiply 5 x 7, you just count by fives, seven times. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35. So 7 x 5 = 35. If you have trouble keeping track, just use your fingers.

Nine Times Tables - One Seriously Handy Tip

Here is a fun (OK, "fun" is a relative term) way to remember your nine times tables. For this method you are going to need to have two hands. Put your hands in front of you with your palms towards you. Your fingers represent the numbers one to ten (one is your left thumb; ten is your right thumb). Now you're ready to do your nine times tables. Let's say the question is 9 x 4. Count to the fourth finger (if you've counted right, it will be the ring finger on your left hand) and curl that finger under. Now you have three fingers up before that finger and 6 up after it. So the answer is 36. Let's try 9 x 8. Put down the 8th finger (middle finger on the right hand) so that you have seven fingers up before the finger you curled under, and two fingers afterward. So the answer is 72. If you're confused, check out the diagram at the top of this page on the right. It'll clear things up.

Ten Times Tables :: Just Add Zero and Stir

Here's another no-brainer. If you want to multiply something by 10, just add a zero on the end. Here's an example: 10 x 8 = 80 or 10 x 100 = 1,000. Try it with any number - from one to a billion. It's just too easy.

Eleven Times Tables :: Seeing Double

Here's another one that's as easy as pie. Any number - up to nine - multiplied by 11 is itself written out twice. Confused? Just check it out: 9 x 11 = 99, 4 x 11 = 44, 3 x 11 = 33 and so on.

* Hint *

Times tables work both ways (5 x 10 is the same as 10 x 5) so if you have the question 3 x 11, don't stress that there isn't a trick for the three times tables -- use the trick for 11 instead!

Wednesday Wellness - Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus
1 Tbsp. olive oil
sea salt

1. First, start by breaking the cut ends off of each stalk of asparagus. I hold one end in each hand an bend the asparagus until the it breaks in two. 
2. Arrange the freshly snapped asparagus in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the stalk so that each one is coated with oil.
3. Now sprinkle on the salt and any additional herbs or spices that you would like. You can also drizzle lemon juice or balsamic vinegar on after they’re done.
4. Pop the baking dish into the oven and turn your broiler on. The asparagus will need to broil for 8 to 10 minutes depending on how thick they are. When they are done, the stalks will be lightly browned and tender when tested with a fork (or teeth!).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Divison Tips and Tricks

Division Tips - Dividing By One

This one's a cinch. You wanna divide a number by one, do you? Easy. Take the number - say 1,372 - and that's it. That's your answer. 429 / 1 = 429. 11 / 1 = 11. 1,000,000 / 1 = 1,000,000. And you thought this was hard? Phhhh.

Division Tips - Dividing By Two

When you divide something by two, you simply cut it in half. Half of 234 is 117, therefore 234 1 2 = 117. Let's try a smaller number: 20 / 2 = 10. Why? Because half of 20 is 10. If the number you're trying to divide is odd (like, say, 33), then you can't divide it evenly by two. Easy peasy.

Division Tips - Dividing By Three

Wanna know if you can divide a number evenly by three? Just add up all the digits until you have a single number. If THAT number is divisible by three, so is the original number. Case in point: 8787. If you add 8+7+8+7 you get 30. Then add 3+0, which equals three. Three is definitely divisible by three, so you know that 8787 is too.

Division Tips - Dividing By Four

The rule for dividing by four is the same as for dividing by two - only you have to do it twice. If you want to divide 88 by 4, you simply halve 88 (which is 44) and then halve that number (which, in this case, is 22). 12 / 4? Half of 12 is six and half of six is three - so your answer is three.

Division Tips - Dividing By Five

If you want to know whether a number can be evenly divided by five you just need to look at the number's last digit. If the last digit is a zero or a five, then the number is divisible by five. 1,573,740 ends in zero so it is divisible by five. Since 23 ends in three, it isn't divisible by five.

Division Tips - Dividing By Six

If a number is BOTH divisible by three (see the three rule) AND an even number (ending in 0,2,4, 6 or 8) then it is divisible by six too. 312 is an even number and if you add up all the digits they equal six, which is divisible by three. Therefore 312 is divisible by six.

Division Tips - Dividing By Seven

To find out if a number is divisible by seven, take the last digit, double it, and subtract it from the rest of the number. "Huh?" you may be saying. Check out this example: If you had 203, you would double the last digit (three) to get six, and subtract that from 20 (the remaining amount) to get 14. Since 14 is divisible by seven, 203 is too.

Division Tips - Dividing By Eight

This brings us back to the old halving trick we used with two and four. Try halving four times to get the answer to this one. Want an example? Okay. 64 / 8. Half of 64 is 32 and half of 32 is 16, then half of 16 is 8. Therefore 64 / 8 = 8.

Division Tips - Dividing By Nine

Use the same trick we used to see if a number is divisible by three - it works for any power of three (3,6,9,12, etc.).

Division Tips - Dividing By Ten

If a number is evenly divisible by 10 it will end in zero. Simply remove that zero to find out what that number would be if it were divided by 10. Example: 370 / 10 = 37 (which is 370 with the "0" taken off the end). 50 / 10 = 5. See the pattern here?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Make Your Own Lava Lamp

Difficulty level: Beginner
What you’ll need: plastic water bottle, vegetable oil, funnel, water, food coloring, masking tape or glue

1. Peel of the label and wash your bottle. Fill 3/4 of the bottle with oil.
2. Fill a measuring cup with an equal amount of water and add a couple of drops of food coloring.
3. Pour colored water into bottle of oil. Secure cap with glue or masking tape, and have a great time.
Bonus tip: Make sure your kids appreciate the oil-doesn’t-mix-with-water analogy before splurging on that real lava lamp.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Family Funtime - Create a Family Mailbox

Kids love getting mail and as long as the mail isn't bills, parents love mail too. Add some zip to your family communications by creating a family mailbox. Great for leaving messages of encouragement, love, and support for fellow family members. It's also a great way for kids to "vent" and get some things that may be troubling them and are unable to express in words off their chest.

Steel or tin mailbox.  (You can purchase a regular steel mailbox at your local hardware store for around $10)
Wood cut out shapes (you can find these at your local craft store)
Acrylic Paints - Don't use Tempera paint.  It won't stick to the steel and tin.
Mini Wood Clothes Pins
Paint Brushes
Markers and Pencil
Individual Family Photo's (optional)

Begin by having every family member choose a wood cut out shape or frame.  After they have chosen, let them decorate them with paint, markers, and photographs.  If more than one person has chosen the same shape be sure to write their names on them.
Next using the pencil, pencil in the design for the mailbox, making sure to get everyone's input and thoughts.
Once the mailbox design is penciled in, paint over it with the acrylic paints.  More than one coat may be necessary.  Let dry overnight.
After the wood cut outs have completely dried, glue a small wooden clothes pin to the back. 
Place the mailbox in a central location and begin leaving mail for each other.  When leaving mail for a particular person in the family raise the flag and clip on their wood cut out.  This gives notice that someone has mail!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Create An Animal Habitat From Your Yard

Collect various items from your yard to create a habitat for any animal! I made this lesson during my student teaching. I took the students outside and gave them each a Ziploc bag to collect their items. We went inside and I showed them how to glue the items on the paper. I let them use their imaginations and choose which animal they want to draw.

Thrifty Thursday - Everyday Uses For Empty Egg Cartons

Fun fact: In 1911, the egg carton was invented by Joseph Coyle in British Columbia in an attempt to solve a dispute between a farmer and a hotel owner who kept blaming one another when the farmer’s eggs often arrived broken.
Organic, free-range or conventional, egg cartons are not always easily recyclable. They are produced out of a variety of materials, including recycled paper and molded pulp, clear plastic and expanded polystyrene foam.
So, if you’re in the habit of stockpiling your egg cartons without a good way to responsibly dispose of them, you’re in luck. (And if you don’t, you might want to start!) These containers have a ton of reuse options, most of which are extremely simple to execute.
1. Start seedlings. Cut off the lid, fill each cup with potting soil, and plant some seeds. Once the seedlings sprout, cut each cup from the tray and plant it—cup and all.
2. Muffle the band. This Old House technical editor (and former rock-star wannabe) Mark Powers once nailed egg cartons to his apartment walls and ceiling to dampen sound while he was recording.
3. Feed birds. Trim off the lid, thread string through holes in each corner of the tray, fill the cups halfway with birdseed, and hang in a tree.
4. Fire the grill. Melt candle scraps in a double boiler, then fill each cup halfway with sawdust. Carefully ladle the wax over the sawdust, and let it cool. Each cup can now serve as a fire starter—just light the edge.
5. Cushion ornaments. The cartons are ideal for separating small, fragile Christmas ornaments for storage.
6. Organize fasteners. Use your cartons as repositories for screws and bolts removed during appliance or other household repairs. Numbering the cups ensures proper reassembly.
7. Round up tiny spare lights. Those stray 4—watt night—lights and holiday bulbs won’t last long rat­tling around in a drawer. An egg carton’s cups make for ideal storage. For this use, keep the lid.
8. Ship cheaply. Being stiff but lightweight makes egg cartons excellent replacements for Styrofoam packing peanuts.
9. Manage a farm. Torn up, egg cartons are a great food source in worm farms. If the soil mix is too moist, add dry carton pieces. Too dry? Dunk them in water first.
10. Store golf balls. Egg cartons make excellent containers for golf balls. Just mark on the outside the brand of balls inside.
 11. Organize earrings. You can put them in a dresser drawer to stack and store your vast wardrobe of earrings.
12.  Makeshift piggy bank – Use an egg carton to store that pesky small change that doesn’t fit in your wallet. The coins can be separated by numerical value and are easy to sort, see and reclaim.
13. Painters Pallet. Keep colors separate, but easily accessible.
14. Desk Organizer. Remove the top and place inside a desk drawer to hold small items, like paper clips, rubber bands, push pins, etc. Paint or decorate if you want to place it on a desktop where it will be seen.
15. Toy Storage. Does it drive you crazy when those little pieces keep getting lost? Use a carton to store doll shoes, game pieces, dice, Lego, etc
16. Shipping. Being stiff but lightweight makes egg cartons excellent replacements for Styrofoam packing peanuts.
17. Manage seeds. You can use it to storage your seeds. Even variety of them! Each cup can be used for different seed type.
18. Make a candle. Make scented candles. Melt wax in a double boiler. Add scents (from a candle shop) and old crayons for color. Put the wick in the bottom of each egg cup. Tie on a small washer to keep it on the bottom. Pour in the wax, holding up the wick. After wax has set, remove the eggcup.
 19. Travel helper. Use them to hold small items like earrings, necklaces, sewing notions, etc; weave needle through the inside top cover so as not to lose it in your suitcase. Hold it together with a large rubber band.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Cat In The Hat Cookies

Materials Needed:

  • Round Crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • White Chocolate
  • Red Icing
  • Wax Paper
Place the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt it. Stir until smooth.
Start off by dipping a round cracker in the white chocolate, tapping off any extra. Place it on a piece of wax paper. Before the chocolate cools and hardens, place a marshmallow on the center of the cracker so it looks like a white top hat. Once the chocolate cools and hardens, the marshmallow should stick.
Now all you need to do is pipe red icing into rings around the hat. Also spread some over the top of the hat. If icing stripes seem to run, place them in the refrigerator to set icing more quickly.

Wednesday Wellness - Gluten Free Pineapple Mango Salsa

(makes 2 1/3 cups)
2 mangos, diced
20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
2 jalepeno peppers, minced
1/2 c. cilantro, minced
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. white pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender, and pulse on the lowest setting until the salsa is a consistency that you like. So easy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Break and Road TripTravel Games

Spring Break is almost here!  I've put together some fun activities to do while traveling to any destination!  Here are a few ideas of ways to organize your backseat to hold treats, drinks, and games!

Road Trip Bingo (link)
Here are two different Car Bingo games. Each has 4 different cards with the items scrambled up. Print enough for each person to have one from each game. Pennies make good card markers, or you can print fresh ones for each trip and check off items with a pencil. They will also fit into a quart sized zipper bag that you can write on with a dry erase marker. You may even want to print these on card stock paper and laminate them, so you can keep them in your box of travel goodies so they'll last for several trips. Print the 8 different bingo cards below!

Tic-Tac-Toe (link)

License Plate State Map Game
1. Print out this US states map
2. When you spot a license plate from a new states, color in those states with bright colored crayons!
3.  Goal is to find all 50 state license plates!
This will help you locate each state on a map!

Make a Trip Journal
It doesn't need to be fancy or complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. The only thing you need is a big spiral bound sketch pad and a box of crayons or markers for each child. Each day of the trip, or for each event along the way, have your child draw a picture of what they did that day, and write about it. You can also paste in souvenirs such as brochures, ticket stubs and other momentous. 
If your child isn't old enough to write, then Mom or Dad can help by offering to write a caption on the page or a couple of sentences on the back. Remember that it's his journal, so ask your child what he wants you to write. Then be sure to add the date. 

Paper Plate Travel Games