Tuesday, December 9, 2014

FIFTY NIFTY UNITED STATES

I can't seem to get that song out of my head.  Anyway...
While Aiyana is doing her schoolwork I often poke around on Pinterest looking for fun education activities for her and I to do together.  Yesterday my search was "United States."  I've been trying to find creative ways of teaching her the U.S. States and their capitols.  One thing I found was a simple worksheet where Aiyana is mostly coloring and drawing but when I clicked on the link it didn't go anywhere so I decided to recreate it myself. 

The worksheet looked pretty much like this: (Click image to Download)


And this is one finished report that Aiyana did.  


This worksheet received a big thumbs up from my daughter. I told her we'll be doing one every day until we finish all 50 states and she said "ok" so I know she likes it.  If not there would have been a frowny face and "aw mom, do we have to?" coming out of her mouth. 

If anyone happens to know who is the original creator of this worksheet, please let me know so I can give credit for the idea. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

RECIPE SHARE

Since going back to a lacto-vegetarian diet I am always on the look out for recipes that fit my diet choice and since, in my opinion, good vegetarian or vegan meals are hard to find for picky eaters like me I get really excited when I come across one that I actually like so I am happy to share this one.  If there are any other picky eaters out there on the look-out for a meatless meal this recipe is for you.   

If you love artichokes you will want to make this.  CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RECIPE. I almost ate the entire pan just by myself.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

CHRISTMAS TREE CANDLES

It's always fun to see what people do with their Christmas trees after the holidays.  If you ever go on Pinterest you'll find some really cool ideas or just surfing the web you'll find some interesting ways of making your tree last.  This is one thing we've done with ours.


Step One: Cutting the tree trunk


Step Two: Decide where to drill cavity for candle.


Step Three: drill candle cavity


Step Four: drop in candle and you now have a rustic, natural candle holder and it took less then 15 minutes :-)






Monday, December 1, 2014

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN

And yes, in case you are wondering (because I get asked this a lot), I think getting a real tree is better for the environment then getting an artificial tree (and supports the local economy) and this is why:

Earth 911
Living Green
Organic Gardening
Mother Jones

The absolute best live tree you can get to minimize impact to the environment is one that is grown on an organic tree farm or one that remains in a pot so it can be planted after the holidays (if you are in a location where you can keep the tree alive for replanting when the time comes - Minnesota not included).

The absolute best environmental choice of Christmas tree is no tree at all.

(oh, and the above is referring to tree farms and not just running out into the wilds on land you don't own and chopping down a tree, that would hardly be a good eco choice).

What do we do with our tree after Christmas? We put our tree outside in its stand and hang seed ornaments on it for the birds and we don't remove it until the tree is completely dead (brown and dry). Once the tree is obviously dead, which oddly isn't until the end of summer usually (balsams tend to be hardly little suckers after they are cut), we chop it up and use it in our fire place or we'll do something even more cool which I'll share in my next blog post so stay tuned.

















Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DIY VANILLA EXTRACT


My daughter and I made some vanilla extract again this year.  We'll be giving these bottles away at Christmas time. 

Last time I made vanilla extract I purchased beans from Beanilla, I really wanted the Mexican vanilla beans at the time but they were all sold out so I bought the Madagascar beans instead.  I found that I really loved the way the vanilla turned out so I ordered the same this year.



I learned I could make my own vanilla from someone on Twitter.  Prior to that I would always buy the McCormick brand from the grocery store.  What I don't like about the cheap commercial vanilla extract is the ingredients tend to be vanilla bean extractives, alcohol, water, and corn syrup.  Why eat corn syrup when you don't have to?

So...I figured if I didn't know I could make my own then maybe others didn't know either, so here is a little tutorial.

What you need: vodka (40%), 4 oz. bottles (mine are from Specialty Bottle), and vanilla beans (mine are from Beanilla).  Beanilla also has instructions on making vanilla extract 





Once you've opened your vanilla beans cut them in half.



Then slice each one down the middle (do not cut all the way through, just slice the first layer)



Open the bean (the inside is where the good stuff is).



Put 5 of the cut beans into each jar.  I had a package of 10 vanilla beans so I ended up with 20 pieces after I cut them in half so I made 4 jars of vanilla extract)



Fill each jar with vodka, make sure you cover the beans.


When you are done filling the jars, cap and label them.  Put them in a dark cool place to sit for 6 weeks.



Here are the labels I made for my vanilla extract.  If you want to use them just CLICK HERE, print on sticker paper and cut out.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

LEARNING AWAY FROM THE CHAIR

We are trying to find creative ways of learning away from the chair.  Sitting down at a table for even a second isn't fun for either of us so we're exploring different ways of learning the essentials without having to be at a table to do it.

Yesterday we were working with measurements again.  This time we focussed on volume.  To help my daughter better understand cups, tablespoons and teaspoons, etc... we have dedicated one day a week as baking day.  Yesterday we made toffee bars.  To help my daughter remember the difference between each type of volume measurement I decided to include a little worksheet, then Aiyana could measure out the ingredients using cups, tsp and tbsp while also checking off what she used.  This is a great way to help her retain information.  Not all children learn this way but for her it works great.

I started with this worksheet that I created.


I added several measuring cups and several of the same measuring spoons because recipes always call for different ingredients of various measurements. So... as we made our toffee bars Aiyana would measure everything out and then mark off the exact measurement on the worksheet.


It's working out well.  The information is starting to stick so that makes me happy :-) Plus, she thinks baking is fun.




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

BUTTERFLIES, BUTTERFLIES, BUTTERFLIES




Who knew insects could be so fascinating but I'm finding myself more and more interested in learning about them, and not just the pretty ones either.

Yesterday we went to the Minnesota Science Museum to check out the Monarch exhibit.  If it wasn't for a time constraint I could have stayed in the butterfly house all day, as it was we had to bribe Aiyana with better things to come just to get her to leave.  

Mating pair.


Apparently I am the only one who thought this was fascinating. Mating butterflies. Maya kept telling me to stop taking pictures but I thought it was cool to see.



Monarch (male) - the swollen pouches (circles/balls) along the veins near the ends of it wings tells you it is a male.


Painted Lady Butterfly hitching a ride on Aiyana's head.

Maya and Monarch posing for the camera.

Painted Lady Butterfly

Monarch (female) having a conversation with my husband.  I think she had a crush on him :P