Wednesday, October 31, 2012

# 54 Hallowe'en Safety game for kids...and a costume idea for you!

Good Morning!

Happy Hallowe'en!

If you have kids Trick or Treating tonight, you might want to play this game with them first.  It's quick, interactive and reviews safety rules kids need to remember.

Need a costume for yourself?  My daughter sent me this quick costume idea last night.  

Find something orange to wear.  I think I have a pumpkin ball cap somewhere....and there's an orange sweatshirt in a basement closet...   Or, maybe I still have a giant, orange plastic leaf bag decorated like a pumpkin...  Anyway, on your shirt, put this mathematical number: 


Pumpkin pie.... : )   Just a suggestion!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

# 53 Five Great Read Alouds for 6 - 9 year olds... Kid Tested!

George's Marvelous Medicine - Roald Dahl 

Rich language...deliciously funny!  George tries to do in his evil granny.

Socks - Beverly Cleary

New baby in the house?  Socks is not a happy cat!

Sheep - Valerie Hobbs

A dog searching for love...a long journey, many owners and adventures.  A great tale!

The Littles  - John Peterson

Tiny people (with very long tails!) who live in the walls of the Bigg family house.  Lots of adventures, easy to read...and many additional titles in the series.

Catwings - Ursula K. Le Guin

What would life be like if cats had wings?  
(4 books in series)

Monday, October 29, 2012

# 52 Kool Aid Playdough...perfect for an "inside" day!

Gray, gloomy, freezing rain...  Is today an "inside" day for you, too? With Sandy approaching, it's definitely an "inside" day on the east coast - stay safe!

If you have any kidlets to entertain this morning, make Kool Aid Playdough.  It's magic when you add the water.  The mixture changes colour and the warm dough is very "sensory".

2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 Tbsp. oil
2 cups boiling water
1 package Kool Aid

Mix all the dry ingredients together. 
Mix oil and water. Add to flour. Mix well. 

Playdough can be stored in the refrigerator for one month.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

# 51 Hey, smile! It's the weekend!

Today's smile.... : )   If you laugh, even better!

A laugh is a smile that bursts.  
~Mary H. Waldrip

...some of the winning submissions to The Washington Post's yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.

Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has

Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only
a nightgown.

Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavoured mouthwash.

Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

Friday, October 26, 2012

# 50 Super Simple DIY: Autumn Hallway Accents

I don't go all out decorating (no competition from this corner!!), but I do like to add a few seasonal accents.  

A few weeks ago I made this wreath.  Ya gotta love glue gluns!!

Then I actually dusted the hall table before I made a little display there.  The burlap cloth was literally a 2 minute DIY project - iron, measure, cut, pull threads to make a fringe.  Simple and I like the texture.

Today, for a little aromatherapy, I added an orange and clove pomander. Again, super simple...a skewer to poke holes, stick in  cloves, rinse and pat dry.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

# 49 "Fresh Herbs & Olive Oil" cubes

Here's an idea I've seen multiple places.  Last week, fresh herbs were on sale, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Wash, pat dry, trim and divide up a variety of fresh herbs. I used basil, sage, thyme and rosemary.  

Fill an ice cube tray with the herbs, either one kind per cube or mixed.  Add olive oil and freeze.  (Note: the olive oil turns white when frozen.)

When frozen, pop out cubes and store in a freezer bag.  Use as needed; no need to defrost first.Cuts down on waste AND saves time when preparing meals! That's great! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

# 48 Need a baby gift? Here's a darling little hat to knit.

I've just finished this sweet little project.  Isn't it cute?  I love the little knot at the top!

This was a free pattern I downloaded from

Called "Baby Hat with Top Knot - Tegan", it was designed by Julie Taylor from the U.K.  It's made with double pointed needles (two sizes) and actually should look like this:

My hat doesn't curve in at the bottom because I only had the larger size needles.  That's why I rolled up the brim.  For wool, I used Bernat Softee Baby.  The directions were so simple - good for working on while watching TV, etc.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

# 47 Buttermilk Biscuits

SNOW this morning!  Lots of it!  Very pretty, crisp and bright.  


Easy and quick!  The buttermilk really makes a difference in the texture and flavour.  

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix well.

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup buttermilk

Cut in butter with fork until crumbly.
Add buttermilk and stir in.
Knead on floured surface 6-8 times, pat out (1/2 inch thick), and then cut into biscuits.

Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes; makes 18 

Time to shovel... : )  

Weekend Potluck # 40

Monday, October 22, 2012

# 46 Reading aloud to your child...

Do you still read aloud to your kids?  

I sure hope so!  

Sometimes, parents feel they don't need to once their kids begin reading themselves.  

It's quite the opposite!  

Reading aloud to your child is:

... high quality, snuggle on the couch, "together" time

... a chance to model "good" reading (appropriate phrasing, volume, expression, etc.)

... an opportunity to expose your child to a variety of authors and genres, fiction and non-fiction

... a way to expand their vocabulary and general knowledge

An added bonus...the child who reads and is read to daily often tends to do much better at school! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

# 45 A Gaelic Hallowe'en treat: Fuarag (pronounced FOO-uh-rack)

Hallowe'en dessert....?

"Good thick cream was put in a basin and well beaten up. While the cream was being stirred round and round, oatmeal (lightly toasted) was gradually added till the whole got as thick as porridge."
- A Year in a Scot's Kitchen

A coin, button, thimble and ring are stirred into the fuarag.  Armed with spoons, everyone dips into the common bowl (no scraping or hunting).  If you find the coin, you are going to be wealthy; the button, you won't be rich at all; the thimble; you are going to be a spinster; the ring; you will marry.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

# 44 Are you a minimalist?

The art world's definition of minimalism is any design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect. 

Extending the concept of minimalism to our own lives is not a new concept, but is interest in minimalism increasing?  

Miss Minimalist yearns to have "just enough".  Her website is more than just a "how to declutter" guide, however.   She promotes the philosophy of a simple, possession-free lifestyle that allows the important things in life centre stage. 

Becoming Minimalist will give you even more food for thought.  

These two websites are worth checking out!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Need a super simple dessert idea? Crepes are a great solution!

We don't have dessert too often, but sometimes we just feel like something sweet.  Crepes are the perfect solution.  I always have the ingredients on hand and they can be made on the spur of the moment.  

This is a simple recipe I've used for years.  It brings back memories of Paris where they can be purchased from street vendors - freshly made in front of you with a splash of lemon juice and sprinkle of sugar, then folded in four.  

Crepes for Two

1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. oil

Beat egg.
Add flour, milk and oil.  Continue beating.  
Mixture should pour easily and be about the consistency of a cream soup. Add a bit more milk if required.

Heat a non-stick pan until quite hot.  
Holding pan in air, pour 1/4 cup of batter onto surface.  
Rotate pan so batter swirls around into a large circle.  When batter no longer moves, place pan on stove for 1-2 minutes.  Check underside. When nicely browned, flip for 30 seconds.
Makes four small crepes.

Serve with lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar. Fold in four.

Set up a buffet of fillings: different kinds of ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauces, maple syrup, sliced bananas, a bowl of berries...  

This can be a relaxed, very social "gather around in the kitchen" type dessert - lots of fun!  

Crepes for Six

3 eggs
1  1/2 cups flour
 1  1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons oil

Weekend Potluck #39

Thursday, October 18, 2012

# 43 Does someone in your house have spelling homework tonight?

Check out, a free, educational website parents and children can use at home.  

I used this website in my classroom for many years.  User friendly, kids could independently access and work on their lists at home and at school.  They liked being able to choose how to study. 

It takes only a few minutes to upload and save a spelling or vocabulary list.  When you click on your list, you are given a choice of games to play, puzzles to complete, handwriting sheets to print, etc.  Using headphones or a speaker, you can do a test online.  

Happy spelling!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

# 42 How to efficiently run your home!!

My mother's high school "Home Economics" notes (1946?)....


7:15    Rise.
7:45   Serve breakfast.
8:15    Clear away dishes.  Wash up.  Prepare vegetables.  
           Tidy kitchen.  Wash tea towels.
8:45    Attend to entrances and stairs.
9:00    Attend to living room and dining room.
9:30    Bathroom and lavatory.
9:45    Bedrooms
10:15   Cooking.  Mid-day meal and preparations for tea, 
           including baking.
11:15   Mid-morning snack.
11:30   Special work.  Wash dusters.
12:30   Have own lunch and wash up.
1:30    Change.  Do shopping, mending, gardening, etc.
4:15    Afternoon tea.
5:15    Lay table.  finish preps. for tea and make sandwich supper.
6:00   Tea
6:30   Wash up.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Back in a bit... : )

I'm taking a break this week and going on a holiday.  YEAH!!!  I won't be able to post while I'm away, but hopefully I'll have some pictures and news to share when I return.

Take care!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

#41 Kid Art: Exploring Colour...Autumn Leaves

This was a favourite autumn activity when I taught grade one.  There were "Eureka!" moments as kids discovered how to create beautiful shades using just the primary colours.  

Materials: tempera or acrylic paints (red, blue, yellow, black, white); Q-tips, small sponges, yogurt lids, poster paper, raffia

  1. Trace leaf shapes on back of paper.
  2. The yogurt lid is your paint tray.  Use the sponge to randomly dab yellow and red paint on your paper.
  3. Experiment by mixing different colours with your Q-tip. Completely fill your paper with fall colours. 
  4. When dry, cut out leaf shapes.  Attach a raffia bow.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

# 40 Crockpot Applesauce - perfect recipe for kids to try!

There's nothing that smells better than Crockpot Applesauce!  And, it's so easy to make!

With apples in season, we made this easy dessert last night.  

There are many, many versions on the Internet.  Here's what I decided to try:

8 apples (Spartan & Royal Gala)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
zest and juice from 1 lemon

Peel, core and slice apples into thin segments.  
Mix all ingredients together in crockpot.  
Cook on low for 4-5 hours.
Serve as is or mash into a sauce.

Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Serves 4-6.

Friday, October 5, 2012

# 39 Guests for dinner? Try "Life's Just Peachy!" Chicken

For me, the best kind of "company" dinners are the ones that look after themselves while you are enjoying the company!

Remember yesterday's peach jam?  It had a rich, fruity taste with just the right amount of sweetness - perfect for this recipe!

Life's Just Peachy! Chicken

2-3 lbs. chicken breasts (4-6)
1/2 yellow onion

Arrange chicken in a 9x13 dish.  
Slice onion into rings; scatter over chicken.

3/4 cup peach jam
3/4 cup salsa
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Mix sauce ingredients; pour over chicken.
Bake (uncovered) in 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

# 38 Try this peach jam! Simple and Delicious!

Last month, when I made grape jelly, I was appalled by the amount of sugar!  

I've been searching for lighter recipes ever since and I was excited to find this peach jam recipe on  "TheDabblist".  

Peach Quick Jam

4 peaches, diced (skins on)
juice from 1 lemon

Cook gently over medium heat until fruit starts to break down.

2/3 cup sugar

Mash gently with potato masher.  Add sugar.  Simmer for another 15 minutes.  Makes one cup.  Store in fridge for one week. Excellent!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

# 37 More Wrist Warmers...this time, knitted!

YARN: Half a 3.5 oz. ball of Vanna's Choice (, 100% Acrylic.  

NEEDLES: 4 size 6 double pointed (4.0 metric; 8 UK)

Same ball of wool as yesterday, but a very different effect! 

Knit a tube (12 stitches per needle / three needles = 36 stitches). This version has 6 rows of grey, 14 rows of a variegated wool, 25 rows of grey. 

I made the thumb hole on row 12: knit 3, finished off 6 for the hole, knit 3.  The next time around I knit 3, added 6 stitches, knit 3.

Single crochet around top to finish.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

# 36 DIY: Crochet a Pair of Wrist Warmers!

For a bit of a change (after bunnies and puppies), I felt inspired by Sandra Juto's Wrist Worms

YARN: 3.5 oz. ball of Vanna's Choice (, 100% Acrylic (makes two pairs). 

HOOK:  G/6; 4.0 metric;  8 UK.

Basically a tube of 13 double crochet rows, I started and ended with a row of 22 single crochet.   

The thumb opening was started on row 4. Instead of joining onto the first stitch of that row, I single crocheted back  along the row.  I did that three times before continuing with my tube.   I finished by crocheting around the thumb hole. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

# 35 Ten Ways to Use Hair Conditioner

Yesterday, I was totally amazed when I overheard a discussion about using hair conditioner instead of shaving cream!

Am I the only person who didn't know this?

What's more, you can massage conditioner into your cuticles to moisten them.  Go figure!

After a little digging, I learned conditioner can remove...
... makeup
... a kid's rub-on tattoo
... a bandage
... a stuck ring!

Try it on tools to prevent rust or use it to grease a noisy hinge.  

Old paint on your brushes?  You guessed it.  Conditioner!

I'm impressed!