Sunday, September 30, 2012

# 34 DIY: Autumn Wreath

I always feel I'm a craft "season" behind when I visit Michael's! 

Today, being behind was great, however, as everything "fall" was on sale.

  • wreath
  • one spray of fall leaves & berries
  • one roll of wire-edged orange ribbon (used half)
  • small wood ornament
  • one flower

  • mini glue gun
  • scissors
Loosely wrap the ribbon around the wreath.  Tack lightly on the back with glue gun.

On the bottom left, glue three pieces: wood ornament, flower and sprig of berries. 

Take spray of leaves apart and glue leaves around wreath.  Cut remaining two sprigs of berries into clusters and attach.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

# 33 Dreaming of a plastic-free world...

At school, we really tried to push the RECYCLE message... for all the obvious reasons.  Sometimes, we forget, however, that there are some other RE words we should be thinking of first.  Words like...




...and how about REFUSE?  

That's what a British couple decided to do in January, 2007, after they realized how much PLASTIC they were using.  Of course, they realized that they needed to substitute other things for all that plastic and that's what their website, Plastic Is Rubbish, is all about.  Product sources, recipes and strong opinions!  There's lots to learn.  Check it out.

Friday, September 28, 2012

# 32 Shuffle your cards! Math card game #3!

Deal Those Cards, Please!
(2 - 4 players; grades 2-6)

Use only the 1-9 cards.
  1. First, the dealer decides if you are going to add or subtract and if the highest or lowest answer wins that round.  
  2. Each player is dealt 4 cards. 
  3. Players arrange their cards into a problem and figure out the answer.  For example, if the dealer calls, “Highest sum!” and I’m given 4, 7, 3, and 5, I would add 74 + 53 = 123.  

Skills: 2-digit addition & subtraction; place value

Remember: Use this game to review, not teach skills or it will be too frustrating. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

#31 Have you heard of food writer, Julie Van Rosendaal?

Guess what I found on my son's bookshelf... Julie Van Rosendaal's cookbook!

I LOVE reading cookbooks! : )

A young mother and food writer, Julie Van Rosendaal is easy to listen to and very practical.  You can hear her on CBC Calgary Radio, The Eyeopener, or find her radio clips and recipes here.  

Julie also has her own "kitchen diary" website, Dinner With Julie.  

And, if you love cookbooks, Chapters has five:
Starting Out: the Essential Guide to Cooking on Your Own
Spilling the Beans...
One Smart Cookie...
Grazing: Portable Finger Snacks & Finger Food...
In the Dog Kitchen (recipes for your dog)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

# 30 Looking for another math card game to play with the kids?

Top It!

1. Remove face cards.  
2. Place deck face down. 
3. Pick two cards each and add numbers.  Player with the highest total wins all four.  
4. A tie?  Pick two more cards each.  Winner takes all eight cards.  
5. Play until all cards have been used.

SUBTRACTION?  Pick three cards each.  Add the two greater numbers, then subtract the smallest.

BONUS: Your child will enjoy the time you spend together!

(In case you missed it... here's the link to MATH SOLITAIRE, another math card game posted last week.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#29 Easy, Tasty Recipe - Pumpkin Soup for One

Today I discovered Autumn Pumpkin Soup (Jean Pare's Company's Coming Healthy in a Hurry).

Simple... few ingredients... quick... healthy... tasty...

Here's my "table for one" version...

1/3 cup finely chopped onion  

Saute gently in 1 tsp. olive oil for at least 10 minutes.

1 container (about 1/3 cup) applesauce
2/3 cup pumpkin
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
dash of salt, pepper and seasoning

Add rest of ingredients.  Bring to boil; simmer 10-15 minutes. 
Garnish with a spoonful of plain, Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
and a sprinkle of chives or green onion. Makes 2 cups.

For more fall recipes and decorating ideas, 
check out
Happy Hour at CraftyScrappyHappy

Monday, September 24, 2012

#28 Knitting for Babies: Bunnies and Puppies

I am NOT a knitter, but this summer I discovered Craftsy and tried some quick, inexpensive  projects to build up my skills.

The bunny was a paid class, "Wee Ones: Seamless Knit Toys" that included:
video lessons 
very clear patterns (bunny, hippo, elephant, little sweater)  
you can post questions (the instructor replies promptly)  

The puppy and beanie were free patterns. 

In addition to knitting, there are DIY and gardening classes, sewing projects, quilting patterns, cake decorating lessons, etc.  One night I watched "Modern Buttercream" (free).  I'm not interested in trying, but it was fun to watch.  

Craftsy - worth checking out!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

#27 Healthy, tasty, easy...Whole Wheat Muffins

Hmmm....can't talk with my mouth full...

Muffins and grape jelly!

This is one of my "go to" recipes from Muffins and More by Jean Pare

Whole Wheat Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Stir together.

1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Pour into bowl; stir just to moisten.  
Fill greased muffin tin or use papers.  
Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.  Makes 12.

BUT.... hold the presses! Instead of an egg, try one container of unsweetened mango applesauce...yum!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

# 26 The Five Language of Love...oh, my!

Last Wednesday, The Pioneer Woman was talking about love...

I followed the link to Gary Chapman's website...

saw the book, 
tried the quiz,

and read about...


WORDS OF AFFIRMATION - "I love you!" and the reason why...

QUALITY TIME - full, undivided attention...

RECEIVING GIFTS - thoughtful, "perfect" gifts... 

ACTS OF SERVICE - helping out, providing relief...

PHYSICAL TOUCH - hugs, holding hands...

How often do we ignore the love gesture of another simply because it's not the kind of love we're seeking?   

Do we think about and give the right kind of love gesture to the one we love?

Friday, September 21, 2012

# 25 Reflections of a Harried Housewife: Cleaning a Kitchen

Do you clean a little every day or very thoroughly once a week?

(No, this is not me.  Are you kidding?)

I argue (with myself) the merits of each style every time I clean.  This morning, as I tidied up after breakfast, I started to count some of the "once in awhile" kitchen spots.  

Grrrr.... Exactly how many are there?  

I counted...
the rim UNDER the counters and kitchen table
water cooler drip tray 
top of the fridge
under the microwave
stove drawer 
inside, under the lip of the dishwasher door
cereal shelf
toaster crumb tray
stove knobs
floor behind the recycle bins


Did I miss any?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

# 24 Seven great ideas for a family games night...

Did you have a chance to play MAKE TEN?  Playing games together creates good memories, but it can be tricky to find a board or card game that works for all ages.  

Three well-loved games in our house are: BOHNANZA, MEXICAN TRAIN GAME AND THE SETTLERS OF CATAN.

With a regular pack of cards, you're all set for a game of SPOONS.  

If there are some little ones, try a classic...OLD MAID!   Other card game ideas can be found here.

Just two of you?  Try a pencil and paper game, CAPTURE.  

Lastly, don't forget some treats...popcorn, anyone?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

#23 A math card game...easy, educational, fun...perfect for kids (grades 1-6)!

Learning addition facts at home?  Try this game!

Make Ten Solitaire

  1. Remove the Jokers and face cards.  Lay out 12 cards.  Ace = "one".
  2. Pick up two cards that add up to ten. Or, pick up just the 10 card (10 + 0 = 10). Replace any cards you pick up with more cards from the deck.  
  3. Keep picking up pairs that add up to ten.  If all of the combinations are correct, every card will be used and the player wins the solitaire game.

Two kids?  Take turns (teaches cooperation).
Need a challenge?  Time yourself, then beat your record.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

# 22 Handy item for the kitchen...

Today I'm a busy girl, finishing laundry, catching up on emails and organizing cupboards.  

No lollygagging, as my grandmother would say!

lollygag |ˈlɒlɪgag| (also lallygag)
verb ( -gagged, -gagging) [ intrans. ] informal
spend time aimlessly; idle : he sends her to Arizona every January to lollygag in the sun.
dawdle : we're lollygagging along.
ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: of unknown origin.

In the kitchen, I've been gradually tidying up my pantry with the help of this product:

As I buy spaghetti sauce, etc., I've been using these plastic lids (Canadian Tire, Safeway) and recycling the jars to store rice, barley, lentils, etc.  

Try them!  : )

Monday, September 17, 2012

# 21 Sex in a Pan

Yesterday, we had a "mid-century" theme meal that included tomato aspic and this tasty dessert:

1  1/2  cups flour
3/4  cup melted butter   
1/2  cup chopped pecans

Mix.  Spread in a 9 x 13 pan.  Bake 20 minutes at 375.  Cool.

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup Cool Whip (buy large container)

Mix well.  Spread over first layer.

1 large pkg. instant chocolate fudge pudding
3 cups milk

Beat 2 minutes at low speed.  Spread over second layer.  Finish by spreading the rest of the Cool Whip over top. Serves 15 - 18.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

# 20 Time to mellow out...

On my own all weekend, this morning I've had to "hustle and bustle" around, cleaning and prepping food for a family dinner tonight.

I'm taking a break now, listening to Enya and having a cup of tea.  On the stove I have my own version of a simmer pot:

peel of one orange
12 cloves
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups water

Simmer gently.  Add more water if needed.

You can find more simmer pot recipes over at Apartment Therapy.  There's also a great article on relaxing music, heartbeats and brain waves that you should check out as well.  

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

# 19 Three Tasty Teas

"As far as her mom was concerned, tea fixed everything.
Have a cold?  Have some tea.  Broken bones?
There's a tea for that too.
Somewhere in her mother's pantry, Laural suspected,
was a box of tea that said, 'In case of Armageddon,
steep three to five minutes."

- Aprilynne Pike, Illusions

One month before 
My sixth birthday,
Sitting beside my mother
On an airplane,
Late at night.  

To Canada!
A new life for our family.
An adventure!

My mother, bent over, crying,
Her tears confused me.
Flight attendants hovered.
I asked her
If she wanted a cup of tea.

- Maggie

Friday, September 14, 2012

#18 Liquid Candy

Today, the Board of Health in NYC decided to bar any establishment with a food-service license from serving sugary beverages in cups or bottles larger than 16 ounces.  Sadly, six in ten New Yorkers (New York Times poll) are opposed to these restrictions.

Sugar!  My goodness, it sneaks in everywhere.  I learned that when I made grape jelly last week!

Did you know...

Coca-Cola (355 ml can)  =  10 tsp. sugar

V8 Splash (473 ml.)  =  14 tsp. sugar

Fruitopia (600 ml.)  =  16 tsp. sugar

Sunny Delight (547 ml)  =  16 tsp. sugar

Pepsi (600 ml.)  =  17 tsp. sugar

Not good : (

Salad Soup and Dumplings...weird, I know, but good!!

...on my own... felt like comfort food... homemade soup!  

...warmed some olive oil in a pot... 

...threw in diced onion and 7 or 8 tiny, new potatoes, washed and cubed. 

Good smells already!!

...checked the fridge and out came the remains of a salad from the night before... spinach, tomatoes, yellow pepper, green onions...

Could be interesting!  Added the salad to the pot.

What else??
... 1/2 cup salsa
... 1/2 cup leftover spaghetti sauce 
... 1 1/2 cups of water
... a splash of Worcestershire sauce

My soup simmered happily for about 20 minutes and then I added...


1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix dry ingredients, then cut in 
1/2 Tbsp. butter

Stir in 1/4 cup of milk to make a soft dough.
Drop spoonfuls onto soup.  
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.


Comfort food...always hits the spot!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

# 17 On baby's bookshelf...

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, 
Go throw your TV set away, 
And in its place you can install, 
A lovely bookshelf on the wall."
― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Some favourite authors for little ones...

BARBARA REID: Sing a Song of Mother Goose; Zoe's Year
MEM FOX: Time for Bed; Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes
EILEEN CHRISTELOW: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
SANDRA BOYNTON: Barnyard Dance
JANET & ALLAN AHLBERG: Each Peach Pear Plum; Peepo

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

# 16 Once upon a time...

Yesterday, Little Princess and her mother went to Story Time at our local library for the very first time.  As she is not quite five months old, some of you might ask....why??  Even very young babies enjoy the action songs and nursery rhymes they learn with their mothers in the library. They listen and absorb language as they're read simple board books. They're learning that books and reading are valued.

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
― Emilie Buchwald
How true! 
Reading with your baby is such an important first step on the road to literacy.  

TOMORROW....some of my favourite board books for little ones

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

# 15 The grape harvest continues! Today...grape jelly!

It was a very "purple" day!  

Bernardin Original Pectin has detailed directions for making all kinds of jam and jelly.

Grape Jelly

Measure 5 cups of grape juice into a large, stainless steel saucepan.  Add 1/2 tsp. butter (to reduce the foaming) and one box of pectin.  Stir and bring to a full rolling boil.  Add 6 cups sugar, return to a full boil and boil hard for one minute.  Remove from heat.  Skim off foam.  Fill jars.  Makes 8 cups.

Instead of processing the jelly, I filled small plastic containers to give to friends to eat right away.

Monday, September 10, 2012

# 14 Movie Night? Consider seeing Take This Waltz...

Last night we went to see Take This Waltz (2011), a Canadian film, written and directed by Sarah Polley.  (Perhaps you remember Sarah Polley from her acting days as lead child actress in the Ramona series and Anne of Green Gables.)  Although billed as a comedy/drama, this movie was actually quite dark and sad.  Its main objective was to have you reflect on how people choose their own path and how (sadly) some people can't ever feel content with the choices they've made.  The three key actors, Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby, were excellent.  Well worth seeing.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#13 Sandra Juto's photo blog

Wordle: Sandra Juto's blog

If you have time this morning to wander around the world, visit Sandra Juto in Berlin.  She has an amazing blog - few words, incredible photographs.  Originally from Sweden, Sandra now lives in Berlin.  Peek into her world!  Visit an open air market, walk up the staircase to her apartment, visit her uncle's home in Sweden.  For me, her pictures bring back wonderful memories of living and travelling in Europe.  In her blog Sandra also showcases some of the art design work she has done.  On the side, she makes wrist worms.  I'd love to learn how to knit a pair!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

# 12 A "Linky" Experiment!!

So, we're trying something new tonight...hope it works!!  I've linked a previous post, Oatmeal Muffins, to a "Weekend Potluck" at The Country Cook.

Here, have an oatmeal muffin!  They really are tasty and super simple to make.  

While you're over at the potluck, check out some of the other posts Country Cook has put up lately.  Currently, she's sitting up in my Bookmark Bar and I make a point of checking her site a couple of times each week.  Lots of good cooking and well-written posts!

Hey!  I'm curious!  Which recipe sites do you like best?  

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

# 11 The grape harvest has begun! : )

Yes, that's right.  Even in Alberta (move over Ontario and B.C.!!), we can grow grapes.  Planted three years ago, this year we have a bumper crop!

The grapes are tiny (about the size of blueberries) so they're meant for juice, wine and jelly rather than eating.  The juice (first time!) is marvellous - intense, fresh and perfect "as is" (no sugar needed).

Microwave 2 cups of grapes (no stems) in a large, glass measuring cup for 4-5 minutes.  Gently press the grapes with a spoon to make sure they've popped.  Strain 3 times using Bernardin jelly bags (Safeway, Canadian Tire).  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

#10 HALF BROTHER by Kenneth Oppel

The "teen" book I'm sharing with my KidLit Club tonight is Half Brother (2010) by Canadian author, Kenneth Oppel.  Ben is thirteen when his scientist parents decide to raise a young chimp as a human child in their home. Can they teach Zan to communicate using ASL? Ben grows to deeply love his chimp brother and takes extraordinary measures when the project is abruptly ended. Loosely based on Project Nim, a chimp research project in the 1970's, Kenneth Oppel explores not just the controversy surrounding animal testing, but also the bigger concepts of family and making choices.  Excellent book!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

# 9 Every day needs a bit of a kick start...

Yes, a cup of java, but much better... the comics and horoscope page!

Today, in BETWEEN FRIENDS, the chat over coffee goes like this:

    "I'm feeling a little lethargic lately."

  "Eat less sugar, drink less caffeine, watch less television."

  "Do you really think depriving myself of everything is the answer?"

  "- Eat MORE fibre, drink MORE water, get MORE exercise."

Eugenia Last in YOUR HOROSCOPE tells me to show my feelings, embrace change and follow my heart.  Love, apparently, will bring stellar results (yes!!) and there could be a trip or some socializing!

Hmmm... busy day! Better get out of bed... : )