Archive for November, 2008

Weekend Projects - Fleece Scarves and Fabric Wreaths

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Along with a long weekend and lots of holiday visiting comes tired and bored   children who have a tendency to spend a lot of time underfoot.  To avoid the ‘what can we do’ mantra the past few days, I gave them a few craft projects to do.

 

One project was these cute fleece scarves that were an easy cutting project for them and took a nice little while. 

They cut out 5 pieces of fleece each about 8 inches wide and 5 foot long, it just depends how big you want your scarf.   They stacked them atop each other and I sewed down the center (twice to make them extra sturdy.) 

Then the twins had fun cutting the fringe to within and inch of the center and then fluffed them. 

 

We had made a few of these as gifts a few years ago and had all but forgotten about them until the other day.  I realized we never made any for the twins and knew they’d love making and wearing them.

 

Their favorite project was fabric wreaths that we made to decorate our doors this Christmas.  I also made a sparkly fabric garland in matching green and red fabric to hang in our home.  They liked making them so much that they wanted to make more so we hunted down some pink and blue fabrics and they each made one for their rooms.  They turned out really cute, and I promise I’ll have more pictures of them up to show you tomorrow.  And we did videotape that project so they’ll be directions and a how to video up on the kidoozy site in the next few days.

Food kids can make.

Friday, November 28th, 2008

If you have kids that like to cook or want to learn how to cook (or if you just want them to learn how to cook so you don’t have to) you need to check out Spatulatta.There are over 200 great recipe videos of kids showing kids how to make really good food.

The twins always enjoy watching some of the videos and then choosing one of the recipes for us to make together.  It’s a great way to take a break and spend some fun family time together.

Making Homemade Pie Crusts

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I was making four pie crusts yesterday for the obligatory apple crumb and pumpkin pies this year and thought of how many times people have said they can’t make good pie crusts. 

They oooo and ahhh over how good mine are and when I try to say they’re easy to make they don’t believe me.  Apparently there’s some pie crust myth floating around out there about how difficult it is to make them.  Trust me, they’re not hard to make, my seven year old twins can make them with just a little assistance with the rolling.

 

So while making my crusts I decided to take pictures and will do my best to describe exactly how to make very good, very simple pie crusts that will have everyone complimenting you.

 

I believe this recipe comes from Betty Crocker or Fanny Farmer, but I’m not sure since I’ve been making it from memory since my mom taught me 30 some years ago.   Back then my cousin Dawn and I would steal raw pie crust (it is very good, although probably not too healthy) while my aunt and mom were baking and they would tell us we’d get worms from eating it. 

To spite them, I now eat unbaked pie crust whenever I want, and I let the kids and dogs have some too.  I can testify that none of us has ever gotten worms.

 

For one recipe that makes 2, 9 inch Pie Crusts you’ll need.

 

2 cups Flour

1 tsp Salt

¾ cup shortening (I use a little extra to make the crust flakier)

6 Tbsp. Ice Cold Water (I drop an ice cube in a cup of water and scoop it out of there to add to the mix)

Wax Paper

 

 Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl.

 

 

Add the shortening and cut into crumbs with a fork or a pastry mixer thingy.  I don’t know the technical name so I took a picture for you to see.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the water one tablespoon at a time and mix in with a fork.

 

 

 

  

   

 

Gather half of the mixture together in your hands and press into a ball.  (If it is too dry and doesn’t stick well, add additional water.)

 

 

 

 

 

Tear two pieces of wax paper and place a ball of dough between the two. 

Roll the dough out into a circle always pushing from the center so the crust is an even thickness.  (If it’s not looking like a circle then tear off the section that is out of shape and put it where you need more dough)

 

Once your circle is about 10” in diameter (a bit bigger than the pie plate) carefully peel the wax paper off the top of the dough and replace it again.  (this loosens the dough from the paper)

Next flip the dough over onto the other side while keeping it between the two pieces of wax paper.

Carefully peel the wax paper from the top side to loosen it, but do not replace the wax paper.

 

 

 

 

Set your pie plate face down in the center of the crust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your crust should now be sitting on top of your pie plate.

 

  

 

Press the crust into the pie plate.

 

 

Cut any excess crust off that is hanging over the edge of the pie plate and crimp the edges of the crust either pie pinching together with your thumb and index finger, or with the tines of a fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your pie crust is now ready to be filled.

 

 

Happy Baking!

Making a difference.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

The One Dollar Give

I was rummaging around the web today in between phonics and math lessons because that’s about all I can do on the computer when the twins are nearby.  They have a tendency to chatter and question and just generally keep my brain from functioning properly.

But it was a good thing because I found this really super site, one dollar give, about giving a dollar a day to charity through the month of December.  What a wonderful idea, since that is what Christmas should be all about, giving.  They will highlight a different charity each day and if you choose you can give one dollar to that charity. 

With lots of people each giving just a dollar imagine the difference we can make.

Day of Wonder. Multicolored dogs.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

I wonder, each year as the cold weather rolls around, and I unpack the sweaters and winter coats, and generally fuzzy clothing, why I got multicolored dogs.

 

Wear a black coat, we’ve got white fur for that compliments of our beloved Nipper.  A white sweater, well Nipper has that covered since as a dalmation mix she’s got black fur too.   For variety we got Tasha, our less than energetic greyhound, she’s got the tan fur covered.  (Acutally, I don’t see how either of them shed at all since 95% of their time is spent lying completely still sleeping.   Notice how annoyed Tasha looks that I dared to interupt nap time for a photo.) 

 

 

So we have three shades of dog fur floating around every inch of our home.  If you come to visit, be sure to dress in leopard prints or any black, white and tan prints you own, or you will leave with noticeable dog fur somewhere on your outfit. 

 

Maybe next time we get a dog we’ll stick to a single color, black perhaps since I have a lot of black coats, sweaters and pants, and any dog we get from that point on will be black. 

OK, not really since we always get saved mutts and it’s whichever one uses their adorable doggie charms most effectively to convince us we can’t live without them.

 

But I still hate having dog fur on my stuff.

Christmas Cards - Adorable, Affordable, Homemade

Monday, November 24th, 2008

 I know, you may be saying it’s time to be thinking Thanksgiving food not Christmas cards.  But, it never fails that I get at least one Christmas card the first couple of days of December and then I start actually thinking about Christmas cards and then I think about them and think about them some more and then get them started the week before Christmas.  A week before doesn’t sound too bad, except that as busy as things are the week before Christmas I actually don’t get the cards addressed and mailed till after Christmas, and as anyone on our Christmas card list can attest to, the cards arrive sometime around New Years.  In fact last year I just ended up referring to them as New Years cards because they were too far beyond Christmas, which isn’t all bad, I mean who doesn’t like a happy surprise piece of snail mail once all the holiday mail has ceased.

 

So after last year’s record lateness of our Christmas cards I have made a commitment this year to get all our cards to everyone before December 25th.  I can do this.  I know I can.

Now of course, we don’t just buy cards, not even photo ones, we make cards because it keeps the kids busy, they’re unique, and it saves us some money.

 

I spent some time this past weekend searching for some interesting cards to make since this year and narrowed it down to three choices.

 

I really like these homemade pop up cards by Robert Sabuda.  The Christmas tree design seems especially ‘do-able’ for the kids, although there are other neat things like an angel, a snowman and a pointsettia.  And how impressed would people be that the kids made these themselves.

 

I also like our old ‘stand by’ cards that we have made when the twins were younger.  Cards made from wrapping paper designs.  Get out your Christmas wrapping paper and have the kids cut out one of the designs like a tree or santa or a reindeer.  Then glue the design on and embellish it.  There’s a video and more directions of these at kidoozy, under Wrapping Paper Cards.

 

My final choice is these really neat spinning snowflake cards I found at chico and jo.   I’ve never seen any like these and they are really adorable. I think everyone would enjoy opening a card and watching a cute little snowflake spin around.  Cats would love it.  They’d probably destroy it, trying to bat at the little snowflake, but how great is a Christmas card that doubles as a cat toy?  And I’m thinking if we do this one we could use a star instead of a snowflake and insert a little excerpt about the wise men following the star.

 

Not sure which we’ll do yet this year, but I suppose I’ll have to decide soon to make my December 25th deadline.

 

Oh, and since it’s a Monday. 

Our Money Saving Monday tips for Christmas cards.

 

I’ve already covered making your own cards.  It saves a few bucks.

 

The other thing we do is tuck 2 or 3  extra photos that we have from throughout the year in with the cards.

Think of the money you can save skipping the photo cards and instead sending  really cute extra pictures of your kids you have laying around.  Wouldn’t someone love to see a photo of the kids at the zoo this fall, or on a camping trip, or riding the carousel at the fair.  Kids love going through old photos and deciding who to send which pictures to for Christmas, and friends and relatives will love seeing photos of what the kids did throughout the year. 

Quick Breads for with your meal

Friday, November 21st, 2008

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching… I actually thought it was still two weeks away until someone corrected me yesterday, uh oh, it’s only a week away.

So I came home and broke out the recipe books, recipe websites and favorite recipe file and started searching.  I got as far as bread. 

I love bread.  Forget all the carbohydrate stuff that says it makes you fat, it has yet to make me fat.  Even when I used to make fresh bread nearly every day and would eat a whole loaf just out of the oven by myself I didn’t get fat.  In fact, the whole reason I started making bread 20 years ago was to stay thin in college.  I’ve always loved to bake, and in college I baked a lot of cookies, pies and cakes (cheesecakes to be more specific…mmmmm).  And baking was ok when I had guy roommates to eat the stuff.  But when I moved into an apartment with just one girl roommate, we ate too much of my baked goods.  And as we all know, women cannot eat baked goods as successfully as men and not get fat,  so I learned to bake bread instead of cookies and cakes.

But back to today.  In hunting, I found two of my favorite bread recipes which are quick and easy to put together.  Buttermilk Biscuits (no need for buttermilk, just add a little white vinegar to your milk), and Homemade Cornbread (compliments of a tattered old Fanny Farmer cookbook that was my grandmothers (and she was born in 1899, so that tells you how old and tattered the cookbook is).  Neither of these breads contain yeast so we’re not talking any special ingredients and they’re both very yummy and can be made in a hurry for your Thanksgiving feast.

 

Now before I get long winded again, here’s the recipes.

 

Easy Buttermilk Biscuits

2 Cups Flour

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Salt

One quarter tsp. Baking Soda

One third cup Margarine or Butter softened

Three quarter cup Buttermilk (we use regular milk and 1 Tbsp. White Vinegar)

 

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt.  Cut in margarine with a fork until mixture is crumbly.  Add milk and stir until it forms a soft dough.  Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead lightly a few times.  Shape dough into 16-18 biscuit shaped balls (the quicker way that we usually do it), or roll the dough out and cut with a circle cookie cutter that is about 1 and a half inches wide.

Place the biscuits 1 inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

 

For years I used to roll out the dough and cut into circles but have found that just shaping the dough with our hands works just as well and is quicker.

 

Quick Corn Bread

1 Cup Flour

Three fourth Cup Corn Meal

One Third Cup Sugar

3 tsp. Baking Powder

Three fourth tsp. Salt

1 Cup Milk

1 Egg Beaten

3 Tbsp. Melted Butter

 

In Large Bowl mix flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir well.  Add milk, egg and melted butter.  Mix until smooth.

Bake in a greased 8 by 8 inch pan at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

 

Tip:  We first line our 8 by 8 pan with foil, and then spray it so that the cornbread pops out easily.  To line the pan quickly and without wrinkles in the corners we take a piece of foil and ‘mold’ it on the outside bottom of the pan then take it off and press it inside.

 

If you have any favorite bread recipes to share I’d love to hear them, I’m always trying new bread! 

 

 

 

Giveaway - $25 Michaels Gift Card

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Here I am back from another trip to our local Michaels Craft Store and I was thinking I should share the crafting joy.  So to get in the holiday homemade gift-giving spirit I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Michaels Crafts.  

Think of all the neat gifts you can make, for FREE, by checking out all the fun projects at kidoozy.com and then visiting Michaels with your gift card in hand.   And don’t worry if you aren’t lucky enough to live near a Michaels, you can shop with them online.  

 

To enter Kidoozy.com’s Michaels Gift Card Giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment about this post and let me know which of the project ideas on kidoozy is your favorite, and who you would make the project for.  We’re working on new projects for our site all the time and would love to have your feedback to know what you like best.

 

You need to leave your comment by 11:59 EST Sunday November 30, 2008. 

One winner will be chosen at random on December 1, 2008 and will be notified by email.

 

Good Luck!

Thru my Eyes. Cheap Entertainment

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

I really should get paid for this. 

I spent an hour of my afternoon entertaining mom, dad, mammy, pappy and an aunt and uncle today, and got nothing for it.  I mean sure I was just opening and closing a musical card and having them take turns dancing with me, but I got worn out..  It’s not my problem that big people are so easily entertained…I deserve some compensation.

 

And let me tell you.  This is not the first time this type of thing has happened.  They often set me in the middle of a room full of relatives and then just stare at me and I’m supposed to entertain them. 

Aren’t there some sort of child labor laws in this country?

Oh, and by the way, if anyone is reading this who gets me cards, make them musical, those things are cool.

Thoughtfulness this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Have you been noticing it yet?

You know that overwhelming feeling that starts to sneak up at this time of year.

Thanksgiving is a week away, the cooking the baking the eating….and then it hits you full force and you think, ‘Oh no…Christmas is only 4 weeks away!’

 

There’s cookies to be baked, decorations to be hung, shopping to do, gifts to make, wrapping and tree trimming and kids to drag through the stores all the while saying, “I hope Santa brings me that….and that….and that.”  Oh, and lets not forget the personal dilemmas.  How to not gain 10 pounds, which parties to go to, what to wear and how to avoid any family ‘issues’ at those big family gatherings.  

Aahhh.  I’m getting stressed just writing about it.  

 

Holidays were so much simpler when I was a kid, and that’s the part of this time of year I’m striving to remember and preserve for our kids.  Now, before things start to go crazy, is the time to plan for the really important things for Christmas.  Family and friendships and thoughtfulness.   And I don’t mean going to every party that anyone holds, or giving a gift to each person you know.  I mean spending time with those we care about and making their season a little brighter.  Especially if you have children.   Kids can bring so much joy for others just by being kids.

 

Start now and make a list of everyone you’d like to visit and spend some time with this holiday and schedule them into your calendar.  It may be grandparents that live an hour or two away, or an older neighbor you never seem to find time to visit.  Maybe there’s an friend you haven’t talk to in years or a favorite aunt in assisted living community.  If it’s someone who lives further away then give them a call to have the kids say hello.  Also schedule a little time for sending out those Christmas cards and take a moment to write a personal little line or two to those people you’re not in contact with regularly and send them a few photos from your year.  Have the kids draw pictures or write their own little notes to include with the cards too.  Those little touches can mean a lot.

 

A little note made my holiday season yesterday when I received an email from a woman I hadn’t seen in 19 years.   She thought of me and found me through a simple search on my name.  (Good thing I kept my maiden name.) It was from the mom of my best friend in college.  He was like a brother to me and passed away when we were just 21.

 

 It means a lot sometimes, the simplest little email or visit or note. 

 

So amidst all the hustle and bustle this holiday season remember that teaching our children what a big impact our thoughtfulness can have on others is an important gift to give them this Christmas.

 

For some extra ideas on teaching your kids to make a difference this holiday here are some suggestions.

Make a Child Smile and Hugs and Hope  - Your children can make and send cards to terminally ill children to brighten their day.

Color a Smile  collects crayon drawings from school children and distributes these drawings to Nursing Homes, Meals on Wheels Programs, and Individuals all across the country. 

 Doing Good Together   has great ideas of doing good together as a family this holiday season.