Dot Letters

This little print out is from Confessions of a Homeschooler‘s “Letter of the Week” preschool curriculum that I got to do with Peter. You’re supposed to use bingo doppers with watercolors but I didn’t order any with my last big purchase. She said you could paint them in, which is what I was actually going to do until I remembered I bought a package of those color magnet chips and they work PERFECTLY.

 

 

Don’t worry, blue cam in the package but Pman is hoarding them all in his right hand and was refusing to use them. Don’t ask. Boys are weird. And surprise, surprise! He is using his left hand!

The first time we did it, I just let him put the dots on and then I had him put the dots on in order of how he would write it with a pen to become familiar with how to write the letter.

Paper Pumpkins

I’m beginning to think I bought all these art supplies for myself….I probably use just as much as the stuff as the kids do! Why not? It’s raining out, I had three episodes of Dr. Phil to catch up on and all three boys (yes, three. My friend’s two year old joins us 1-3 days a week) were passed out during nap time. I googled “paper pumpkin” and this project was the second image that came up. It’s from The Hostess with the Mostess.

You just need orange, green and brown construction paper (check), scissors (check) and paperclips (check) or stapler (check). It took about 5 minutes to make each of them but it would have been A LOT faster if I had a paper cutter…hmmm…I do have a 40% off coupon for Joanns that expires tomorrow…hmmm…okay, sorry. Anyway, I wanted to hang them but I figured putting two new holes in the wall today was enough so I propped them on top of this huge gold mirror we have in our living room. Maybe I will get one of those 3M hooks to dangle them all from.

 

Anyway, I haven’t done a craft in a long time! Fun and easy! I suggest using the paperclips (happened to have colored ones as well to match) because you’d be putting 3-4 staples at the top because you need to keep adding the stem and leaves.

The Midwife’s Confession

The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain is one heck of a messed up book. It’s nothing like sci-fi crazy or anything, it just is really messed up. Pretty much the only thing I can tell you about the book is that the midwife’s name is Noelle. If I told you anything else, I’d either be ruining the book or telling you a lie. And let’s get something straight, she has WAY MORE than one confession!

The book was recommended by a group of friends that all liked the book, probably not for what happens but because it’s a page turner. This is not a feel good book but I’m pretty sure it’s fiction. The book is not about the deliveries or stuff that happens during deliveries, it really has nothing to do with that. The book could have been written, “The Librarian’s Confession” and still had the same storyline so if the “midwife” is keeping you from reading it, don’t let you. It has nothing to do with home birth’s or anything like that either.

I would only recommend this book to select friends or family. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that is paranoid, that’s for sure! It’s a dark storyline so if you are looking for a good pick-me-up book, this isn’t the one. I had it sitting on my book list for a long time but it kept coming up in conversation so I finally pushed it ahead of other books to read. It’s just over 400 pages and I read it in 4-5 nights, of which I don’t start reading until about 9 or 10 at night, so it kept me up pretty late because I couldn’t put it down!

Watercolor Leaf Painting

I ordered some watercolor paper leaves from Discount School Supply with my last order for the kids to color for fall. I bought purple, teal, red and yellow liquid watercolors but I’ve never used them before. The first time I mixed the colors with too much water so that when they painted, it was a really really pale color. So when I did a refill, I did about half water and half color and the colors turned out way more vibrant.

 

When I do watercolors again, I’m going to put a brush in each color so they put it back and pick up a new brush when they want a different color. The first thing Cheech did was mix all of the colors and then Pman copied him, so they quickly had brown paint. I also gave them droppers, which Pman used towards the end and loved using and then was kind of mad when I ran out of leaves. Next time, order two packs. I think there are 24 in a pack.

I mixed the teal and the yellow together to get more of a green. I even ended up giving them purple to use. The leaves turned out pretty but if you are looking for really fall-ish looking leaves, just give your kids red and yellow and it will end up mixed together to make orange. I might end up cutting more leaves out of coffee filters and doing this again….maybe.

The boys also loved wearing their paint smocks for the first time and they washed really well and were less stiff after another washing.

 

There trays were nice to give each kid their own space to work in and also so when the leaf got wet, it didn’t stick to the paper on the table. The trays needed to be wiped off in between each leaf though or else the left over paint would cover 80% of the new leaf you would put down. I just used one of those blue garage towels, it was the closest thing and it worked really well.

 

This weekend I would like to go to IKEA and get the wire hangers with clips so I can hang up their artwork (specifically these leaves right now) and then also hang up birthday and holiday cards when we get them in the mail. Our fridge simply isn’t big enough.

King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Apple PIe

For the past two years I’ve been working on baking my way through my King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book and I’ve kind of stalled out on it but I figured since we picked a ton of apples this weekend I needed to make apple pie, so why not check this one off in the book?

Just to warn you, it has a butt load of sugar in it. I mean, way more than any pie should ever have, so I some sugar out (and honestly, I’m going to cut out even more next time) and cut out some of the butter because I felt it was not needed. One place where you can’t skimp on butter is the crust through, which is also homemade. You never truly baked a pie yourself if you bought the crust from the store, sorry, but it’s true!

I used to be very scared of making my own pastry, mostly because I had no idea of an easy way to cut the butter into the dough without it being a total hot mess. Pastry cutter…sucks. Food processor…overprocess. Forks and/or knives….seriously? Then last fall my good friend and I went to a pie baking class at William & Sonoma. I seriously learned a life altering technique. Seriously, after I tell you think you will never look at pastry again as a daunting task. Ready? Grate frozen butter. WHAT? Yes. GRATE FROZEN BUTTER. Ok, now you can make any type of pastry! Want it even more flaky? Forget brushing it with egg. Brush it with vodka. Yay!

Ok, so to the recipe…

Crust:

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour (or whole wheat flour but will be less flaky)
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick, 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp (1 ounce) orange juice
  • 2 to 4 tbsp (1 to 2 ounces) ice water

If you are wondering why I included the weight of some of the ingredients, it’s to save yourself from washing measuring cups and making a mess on your counter. You should bake with weight instead of volume since technically you need to spoon the ingredient into the measuring cup and then level it off with a knife and then dump it in the bowl. Who has time for that? I don’t! Turn on a scale. Place bowl on scale. Tare scale. Add an ingredient. Tare scale. Add another ingredient. Repeat. So easy!

Filling:

  • 5 to 6 cups sliced (and peeled if you have too much time on your hands) apples. About 4 large or 6 medium, about 2 pounds.
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) confectioners sugar (I cut it to 2.5 ounces, but seriously, I will be skipping this all together next time)
  • 1/4 cup (1 7/8 ounces) packed light or dark brown sugar (this is all the sugar it seriously needs between the crust and the topping, but I cut this in half to 1/8 cup as well)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted (left this out)
  • 2 tbsp (3/4 ounce) unbleached all-purpouse flour

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) traditional whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter

To make the crust, mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Grate frozen butter and then toss lightly with fingers to mix. Sprinkle with the orange juice and toss lightly. Slowly add 1 tbsp at a time of the ice water until the dough is cohesive. Grab a handful; if it holds together willingly and doesn’t seem at all dry or crumbly, you’ve added enough liquid. You should be able to see the sprinkles of butter throughout. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight or up to 3 days. You want the whole wheat to become softer from the orange juice. Will yield a flakier crust.

When ready to make the pie, take out the dough 30 minutes prior to rolling (so make the filling and topping and the roll it out).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the filling, thinly slice the apples and place in a LARGE mixing bowl. Toss with the sugar, spices, salt, vanilla and lemon juice. If using the butter add it after mixed along with the flour.

To make the topping, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Stir in vanilla. Grate the butter and toss it in.

To assemble the pie, roll out the crust on a well floured surface. Don’t skimp on the flour, you’ll just end up with a torn pie crust, which will make you hate making pastry even more. Fold into quarters and place in the pie pan and then unfold. Spoon the filling into the crust and the spread the topping on.

Tent with a piece of tin foil and bake until the crust is golden brown, about an hour. Allow to it and cool for at least 1 hour, but more like 3-5 hours so it’s not all soupy.

 

Nutritional info for FULL fat & sugar. 1/10th of the pie (158 grams):

Calories: 412

Fat: 18 g

Carbs: 31g

Protein: 5 g

 

If you cut the powdered and brown sugar in half for the filling and omit the butter in the filling ONLY per 158 grams:

Calories: 364

Fat: 15.7g

Carbs: 23g

Protein: 5 g

 

Still a pretty high calorie treat but it is a lot less scary for me with half the sugar. And 158 grams is a good amount, it’s one of those kids IKEA bowls. If I ever make this recipe again (not because it’s not good, but because I never, ever make the same recipe twice. Ask my husband. It bugs him) I will omit all of the powdered sugar in the filling and just use the 1/4 brown sugar it calls for. If I ever do that, I’ll recalculate the calories out again so I can log it 🙂

 

Apple Picking 2012

Saturday we went apple picking at Draper Girls Orchards in Mt. Hood Parkdale, OR.

Hood River is packed with pear and apple orchards and wine vineyards. Must be good soil, eh? This place is really neat and I like how they run business. We made this trip for two reasons, one being so our kids would learn where apples *really* came from…which is NOT the grocery store and two being I have 30 empty quart jars at home that need filling.

Parking is bit hard and be warned: it is really dusty. Parking is probably a bit more available when they lot isn’t filled up with hundreds of crates to ship out their pre-picked apples to stores.

So after you find a parking space, there is a check in desk where one person in your party signs in and then you write down the numbers on the buckets that they give you to pick with. You even leave your phone number on the sign in sheet because I bet they call your butt when a bucket you signed out doesn’t make it back to the desk.

Price for the apples is per bucket. Filled to the rim = $20. Filled just over the rim = $25. Overflowing buckets with you left carrying some in your hands = $30. Here is the other great part, once you sign in and grab your buckets, someone leads you out in the orchard. You better bring your listening ears because his person is going to tell you what all the rows of trees are. If you aren’t good at listening (or remembering) don’t fret, the first tree in each row has a ribbon with the apple name on it. You still waiting for the great part? Okay, here it is. The place is literally a free-for-all. Meaning, you load your buckets with whatever type of apple you want and they even have pears!! They all go in the same bucket! This is PRIME for applesauce or even if you just want a variety of apples. Now, one catch is Honeycrisp apples. I know, I had all my PNW’s thinking they could get Honeycrisp’s for dirt real cheap 🙂 You need to keep a separate bucket for Honeycrisp apples. Prices were $30, $35 and $40 for the fill levels. If you pick and do a good enough job keeping the stems on, these apples will last 2-3 months in a refrigerator. I asked about the pears (because I’m saucing those too) and they are going to take 1-2 months to ripen, so if we move, my friends can come take all these pears!

I’m sorry to report that I have no photos of the actual apple picking because I simply cannot carry a camera, two buckets and keep track of my boys. From the photos I took, you’d think we took them pumpkin picking…whoops! That’s next Tuesday 🙂

If you don’t even want to pick, they have bins upon bins of apples.

They also sell their own unpasteurized pear cider, apple cider and pear/apple cider. They also had gourds and pumpkins.

I totally recommend this place. I’m all about easy instruction and plentiful picking, so this is the place! Maybe this is how all apple orchards work, but I haven’t been to one since fall 2010 and in Maine they don’t have 10 million variety of apples like this place did. I can’t wait to see how my applesauce turns out!

Scissor Time

So after getting our big box of school supplies in the mail, I decided to start with learning how to use scissors. I also waited until little brother was down for nap to get scissors within 10 yards of big brother.

First I let him pick out three colors of paper he wanted to work with.

He chose orange, green and blue. Good practice of our colors as we went through the paper. He knows orange really well because it’s his favorite color, but any other color when I ask him what it is, he doesn’t even look at what I am pointing at and he just rattles off a random color.

So at first I gave him a sheet of it and basically was like, “Okay dude. Go to town” but it was very anticlimactic because he was just snipping lines into the paper and nothing was coming off. He also was having trouble holding the big piece of paper and figuring out the scissors at the same time. Listen folks, I went to college for grades 7-12 math, I know nothing about little kids and learning. I knew that Teach Preschool had a blog post about their paper station on the first day of preschool, so I looked it up and realized that she had cut the paper into strips so that kids can cut off chunks of paper in one pass. Duh!

Ok, so now he really got to cutting and I grabbed an orange tray from our set to collect all the pieces. Now, both of my boys 99% of the time use their left hand to eat (with or without a utensil) so I was kind of wondering how this would go.

As you can see, he just went back and forth between right and left hand. He never really settled on a hand to use. Word on the street is that it will take a little while longer to discover hand dominance. I really have no idea.

Once he got the hang of it, it cut up all the paper I had given him and we called it a day. The tray was really nice because if we didn’t have it, he would have not cared at all about paper falling all over the bench and the floor but because he had a defined work space, anytime a piece fell, he picked it up and put it on his tray. I didn’t even need to tell him to do this. When he was done we put all the pieces in a ziploc bag so that we can practice gluing next.

Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook

I read this book as a quick read when book club was only a week away and I would be getting a new book to read. I wanted something quick and light to read, so I looked through all of my free Kindle books that I downloaded a long time ago and came across this one.

I guess the only plot of this book is about a newly divorced, grown woman that is being teased by her siblings and her dad (that after his wife died, as been dating like a college boy) about getting back into the dating world via the newspaper columns for singles. The book just goes through a collection of dates and awkward situations she is put in while reluctantly starting to date after her husband left her mixed in with family drama here and there.

Basically, if you just read a really long and trauma filled book, read this to cleanse your palette before moving onto any heavy reading. I thought the title sounded familiar as a newer movie title and lo and behold it is. I really have no interest in watching it though 🙂 The book wasn’t THAT great, just a quick and easy read.

 

PS- as of 10/5/12, it is still free on Amazon Kindle

Preschool Supplies

I had a full online cart of preschool stuff that I started probably over a month ago to start doing home preschooling with my 3 year old (and with my 19 month old).

So everything is from Discount School Supply. Free shipping with purchases over $79 and their prices are really low and they have a great selection. I didn’t want to be buying stuff from all over and paying shipping 8 different times from 8 different online stores. So this is our goodies from our preschool supply haul! (I was going to call it “loot” but then I realized this stuff wasn’t found or stolen…)

So what we have here is:

  • 4 bottles of liquid water colors
  • 4 bottles of tempera paint
  • 2 packages of markers
  • 1 big bag of pipe cleaners
  • 12 pack of colored trays (for color sorting and giving the boys their own tray of stuff…hoping it keeps down the fighting and taking)
  • 12 pack of big handled brushes
  • 8 glue wand thingy’s (I’m going to experiment with glue and how it is most easily used by my big guy)
  • 1 bottle of Elmer’s glue
  • 500 pages of recycled easel paper
  • 1 pack of googly eyes (random…but a must-have!)
  • 1 pack of colored feathers
  • 2 washable paint smocks
  • 1 pack magnetic counter chips
  • 2 sets of paint cups
  • 2 pairs of blunt end kid scissors
  • 1 pack of blank leaf cutouts from watercolor paper (’tis the season!)
  • 1 pack jeweled alphabet pieces (like for a light table)
  • 5 packages of massive sized construction paper (white, brown, black, purple, green, blue, yellow, pink, red and orange in each)

I totally recommend ordering from DSS, the stuff ships from San Fran so I ordered it on Friday and it was here on Tuesday, pretty quick considering shipping was free!

Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games

This starts out a seriously gut wrenching book about a 6 year old boy that is stolen from his family, thrown into the back of a truck with dozens of other children and hauled off to a military rebel training camp. He witnesses things I would never want to witness in my entire lifetime, let alone one of my own having to live through what he did at age six. Lopez Lomong takes his life one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Thanking God at every turn for whatever comes his way, good or bad.

After, miraculously, making his way to a refugee camp, he is offered an experience that only comes once in a lifetime. To go America. At a young age he was entranced by watching the Olympics on a black and white TV hooked up to a car battery, when moments before he didn’t have the slightest clue what the Olympics even were. He set a goal. My goals are generally to take a shower and get through the day with less than 10 time-outs…but this boy set a goal of running in the Olympics, specifically on the US Team. However, this essay he needs to write to determine his future needs to be in English, a language he doesn’t even know. Lopez doesn’t even have a pen or pencil, only sponsored kids get those, so he has been doing his school work in the dirt with a stick. By the grace of God, the letter gets written in literal and choppy English and he is chosen to immigrate into America and placed with a foster family.

From there it is just amazing to watch how grateful he was for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. He went from having nothing to having the world at his fingertips. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to never see a light come out of a bulb and then, also, have no idea that there is a switch to turn it on and off, thinking that we American’s must sleep with the light on 🙂 Water coming out of a wall? And you can adjust the temperature? That is something that Lopez never thought ever existed at age 16.

Every turn of the page there was something that made me go “What?! Are you serious?? I could NOT imagine!”. For instance, the fact that he was obsessed with soccer BUT in order to be able to play soccer at the refugee camp you had to be one of the first boys to finish a race around the perimeter of the refugee camp…….WHICH IS E-I-G-H-T-E-E-N MILES. He did this everyday! I’ve hit the 18 mile marker four times in my entire life and I was wearing shoes and an iPod with water and food strapped to my waist. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to play a game of soccer afterwards!

 

There is so much jaw dropping stuff in this book that I could go on and on about it and I’d never ruin the book for you 🙂 I would totally recommend it to anyone. It would even be a great book for teens to read to see how fortunate they really are.