Archive for January, 2010

Sunday Scripture

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you.

Psalm 86:5

Book Review. The Magic Treehouse Series

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The Magic Treehouse Series of stories by Mary Pope Osborne.  (aka the Jack and Annie books in our home due to the names of the two main characters.) 

 5 STARS.  Our Suggested Age Range: 4-10

EDUCATIONAL/FANTASY.  Children (and moms), will learn about everything from dinosaurs to gorillas, and from ancient China to the Great SanFrancisco earthquake of 1906 and the Titanic.

OUR THOUGHTS: We all like these books so much that we have the full collection of paperbacks and get new ones as soon as they come out.

MOM:  I like them because they are great stories that are both educational and fun, so the kids don’t mind learning.   I can’t count the number of times the kids have said, “I learned that in a ‘Jack and Annie’ book.” 
JAROD: (age 8):  “I like the books because they have lots of adventure and they always escape stuff.”
MAKENNA: (age 8):  ”I love Jack and Annie because of the adventure, and because there’s usually animals in them.”

A brother and sister, (Jack and Annie).  Ages 7 and 8, respectively.
Join Jack and Annie as they discover a magic treehouse in the woods near their home.  They travel all over the world and across time where they meet intersting people (like Thomas Edison and Leonordo DaVinci) and help solve problems wherever they go.  Young readers learn about everything from dinosaurs to knights and from ancient China and Egypt to the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and the Titanic.
Currently as of Jan. 2010 there are 43 books to this series.  Each one covers a different time and place in history.  They are available in paperback, harcover and also on audio CD.
We first heard about these books when the twins were 4 and we were looking for stories on CDs that they could listen to on long car rides.  They loved them and we eventually ended up getting all the books on CD before they could read.
There is a great Magic Treehouse website featuring information about all the books, games, and links for further information on the different topics.
There are also Research Guides available to enhance the learning from each Magic Treehouse book.

Artsy Pipe Cleaner Tree

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Keep in mind, this is one of those projects that just doesn’t photograph well.  I apologize, but trust me when I say that they are really, really cute. 

Makenna and I discovered a version of these interesting trees displayed at a local elementary school over the weekend and just had to make one immediately.  Makenna made a beautiful one using our endless supply of buttons and some ribbon for decorations, unfortunately, we didn’t have enough pipe cleaners in the house to make one for me too.   (Note.  The original trees we saw were made using beads and feathers for ornaments.)

To make your own Fancy Tree you’ll need:

16 Pipe Cleaners,

Small Base of scrap wood,

Paint to paint the base (and we painted buttons too)

Glue Gun to Glue tree on the base,

Embellishements like Buttons, Ribbon, Feathers, Beads

and Glue if you are using embellishement that need to be glued on the tree.

To Start:

Line up your 16 pipe cleaners and starting about 2 inches from the bottom (that section will be the roots), twist them together for about 2 to 3 inches to form your trunk.

Now seperate the trunk into 4 sections with 4 pipe cleaners each and twist those a little.  Then seperate the groups of 4 into two pipe cleaners.   Twist a bit more, and finally you’ll have single pipe cleaner branches to bend out into the tips of branches.  (This makes a good visual lesson on how generally branches get narrower as you go up from the trunk and out to the branches).

Next add your decorations on the branches.  Either by gluing on feathers, stringing on the beads and buttons or tying on ribbons.

Set aside your tree and paint your wood base.  Let dry.

When the base is dry, apply hot glue to the ‘roots’ of the tree and quickly and firmly press it onto the center of your base.

Optional.  You can now decorate your base more to your liking.  We painted some buttons (I never pass up an opportuntiy to use up more of our 1 million buttons), and glued them on the base and roots to look as if they’d fallen off the tree.

This is definitely a project we’ll be doing again.  Different trees for different holidays/seasons.  I can see making a red, pink and white one with little hearts for Valentines Day, a Fourth of July themed tree, a beautiful white and silver winter tree with snowflakes….Oooo, I’m excited, time to go buy more pipe cleaners!


Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I’m not sure if Jarod or Brian was more excited over the weekend when their Pinewood Derby car won their Cub Scout Pack Derby.  The darn thing beat out about 50 other cars.

I will admit, I was impressed by their creation, especially since last year’s car finished about dead last.

My contribution was that fine batman paint job that I know you were admiring…I’m sure it wouldn’t have won without the paint job.

The only problem now is that Jarod is not allowed to touch the car until after regionals (in March) for fear of somehow ‘throwing off the balance’, and my hubby is spending an extended period of time looking up all things ‘Pinewood Derby’ on the internet. 

Oh, and yes, they’re already designing next year’s car.

Homemade Wild Bird Food

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

When the weather gets cold, we always make sure to take extra care of our wild feathered friends.  We give them plenty of birdseed and fresh water each day.  But, for our animal loving child (Makenna) that wasn’t enough.  She wanted to make them something.  Her first choice was pinecones lathered in peanut butter and rolled in birdseed but we’ve done those in the past….so I headed to the internet to find other recipes.

This is the first one we’ve tried, and we had lots of fun, so we’ll be sure to try some more recipes before the winter is over.

The Recipe.  Homemade Bird Food.

In large bowl combine..

1 cup Cornmeal,  1 cup Peanut Butter,  1 cup Sugar, 1/2 cup Flour

Add 1/2 cup Water.

Microwave on high 4-5 minutes until very thick.

Add 1 cup Birdseed.    Stir.   Let Cool.

Press into mold.  Milk Carton, Cool Whip container, Sour Cream container, etc. (We tried in a pie plate and it got to thin and didn’t hold together as well as we would have liked.)

Put in refrigerator to cool and harden.

Unmold and put outside for the birdies to enjoy!

There are more homemade birdfood recipes here and here.




Quick Knit Kids Hat

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Since I finished Jarod’s blanket, I’ve finally had time to knit other things. 

And It didn’t take me long to figure out what to knit next since, once again, the kids couldn’t find their winter hats from last year.

Needing to make them quickly, I chose the biggest needles I thought I could use for a hat and still have them look good on a little head.  (Size 10.5)

Then I rummaged through my yarn stash, with some help.

These are the result.  All three are made the same, and all three fit my two year old, and my eight year olds. 

If you would want a larger hat, simply add a multiple of 4 stitiches to this pattern (ie. 4, 8, 12….you get the idea).

Now the pattern.

If you are using thicker weight or ‘fluffy’ yarn use a single strand. 

If you are using basic acrylic yarn, work with a double strand.

On size 10.5 needes.   Cast on 40 Stitches.

Knit 2, Purl 2 until your knitting measures about 6.5 inches (you can adjust this depending on how long you want your hat.)  You’ll be working in a basic rib pattern.

Once your hat reaches the desired length, On the next row Knit 2 together for the entire row. (20 stitches)

Knit the next row.

Knit 2 together across the next row. (10 stitches)

Knit the next row.

Knit 2 together across the final row. (5 stitches)

Cut your yarn to about 8 inches and thread thru a yarn needle.

Remove the remaining 5 stitches from the knitting needle and pull the yarn needle through each stitch.

Pull tightly to close the top of your hat.   Then stitch together the two sides of your hat and get the kids and try it on.

Kids Book Reviews

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

We have lots of kids books in our home.   Too many books as far as any reasonable storage solution (like a bookshelf) will allow.  So as the twins have gotten older, and their love of reading has grown we have begun going to our local Southern Lehigh public library once a week to check out about 20 books.

This has served to keep us from going broke and from having every wall in our home lined with bookshelves.

So far we have book collections from when I was a kid like Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie Series (am I dating myself here?)  There are Roald Dahl stories and Boxcar Kids books handed down from their cousins.   And we have some of the twins favorite collections like The Magic Treehouse and Hank the Cowdog series.  Plus, we have bought them a few of their favorites that they’ve read from the library.   See what I mean…lots of books.

So why am I telling you this?  Well, because it dawned on me that a ‘book review’ of kids books by both a boy and girl (and an overview from mom) might be helpful for someone looking for good books for the kids in their lives.

We’ll feature a series or favortie book each week and we’ll let you know what each of the twins thought of it so you get a boy and girl perspective, and I’ll let you know what mom thought of it. 

And if it’s a book your kids have read too, we’d love to have you add your thoughts in the comments!

Carpatho Rusyn Christmas

Friday, January 8th, 2010

We celebrated Christmas yesterday, according to the Julian calendar.

It’s more church, and few gifts (we do most gifts on the 25th), and it’s our family’s official end to the holiday season….

…Now what will I do, now that I don’t have the holiday excuses not to work on all the projects I’m supposed to be doing.

Happy Winter!

Boys Quick Knit Blanket

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

My first project finished in 2010!  Yeah!

I guess I really shouldn’t triumphantly say, ‘Yeah!’, because it was supposed to be a Christmas gift and I just got it done on January 2nd.   On the other hand, luckily, we’re Orthodox and celebrate Christmas again on January 7th (according to the Julian calendar), so I can just pretend I meant to have it done by that Christmas and not the 25th.  Our secret.  OK.

The blanket is knit in the simple Knit 1, Purl 1 stitch the entire way through, which works as long as you cast on an odd number of stitches so you are always knitting a purl stitch and purling a knit stitch.

For this particular blanket I cast 119 stitiches on size 13 needles.  Working with a double strand, (two balls of yarn at once) (K1, P1) and ended with a finished blanket that measures 60″ by 84″.

Here is a girls blanket in the same pattern, and here you can see one for a queen bed that was done in only two colors.