Friday, January 25, 2013

Snow Mice

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  (from SouleMama)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Little Miss Austen "Pride and Prejudice" Counting Primer

I chanced upon this book at a local children's book store this afternoon, and knew immediately that I must buy it.  In case you haven't heard, this year is the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  How, then, could I resist this board book?

I absolutely love the illustrations for this.  They're bright, funny, and full of old-fashioned embellishments. This page is my favorite:  four marriage proposals.  I especially love the funny bits of dialog for each one (click on it to enlarge if you need to).

I also like these portraits of the five Bennet sisters:

I haven't actually read this to Abigail yet, as she fell asleep in the car and is still out (which is why I have a moment to write this), but even if she doesn't take to it, I will keep it because it amuses me so greatly.  They had other classic books turned into board books too, including Jane Eyre, which is my favorite book ever.  But that one wasn't as funny, and some of the pictures were actually a little scary (it's a much darker novel, after all), so I didn't get it.

(Written by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Featured on "Share It Saturday"

Hey, check it out!  My "Winter Game" post was so popular last week when I added it to the blog sharing party on Teach Beside Me that they featured it in their post this week!  It looks like there are lots and lots of great new things linked this week, all sorts of recipes and school ideas, etc.  Go there and see if there are any that interest you!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cranberry Cobbler

I made this for my husband's birthday instead of cake because we never eat a whole cake, and he's not that fond of really sweet things anyway.  This is a great blend of tart and sweet, and it's quick and easy too.

Cranberry Cobbler


6 Tbsp butter -- melted
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thaw if frozen)
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar -- divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg


Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8" x 8" glass baking dish and set aside.  In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and 1 Tbsp sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar.  In another small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter.  Whisk wet mixture into dry mixture until combined.

Pour batter into pan and sprinkle cranberries and any loose sugar on top.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until center springs back when touched.  Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Penguin Bulletin Board

I got a free calendar from some charity or other last month -- NWF or WWF or some similar wildlife-supporting organization -- that had twelve lovely pictures of wild animals.  But it was a small calendar, 8"x10" or so, and I like the big 12"x12" calendars because I write all my appointments and birthdays on them.  But these pictures were so great, I didn't want to just throw away the calendar.  So I decided to use them for bulletin boards for the next couple months.  We started this week with penguins.

All three of my kids have been sick this week, so instead of supplementing our usual school work with things for the bulletin board, this is about all we did.  We began by watching National Geographic-style videos of penguins on YouTube, and after we had watched a few, I asked the kids to tell me some things they had learned.  We wrote those on paper and stuck them on the board around the picture of the penguin chicks.  Another day, I read to them about penguins out of the children's encyclopedia we have, and again I had the kids tell me things they had learned.  Daniel drew and cut out some fish one day, and Mercedes colored a picture of a parent penguin feeding a chick.

One day, I cut apart a map that showed penguin's habitats, turning it into a puzzle.  Mercedes put the puzzle together and glued it onto a piece of construction paper.

While she was doing that, Daniel worked on his writing and spelling by writing out the word 'penguins.'

I tried to find a memory verse that tied in a little with what we were studying, but the best I came up with was  "Then God said, 'Let the waters be full of living things.'" (Gen. 1:20)  Maybe next week I'll find something a little more applicable, we'll see.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Winter Game

I've been meaning to share this for a month now --  I took these pictures back in early December, but just haven't had a moment to sit down and write about it until now.

The Winter Game is something I dreamed up last fall, though it took me a couple of months to finish all of it.  My inspiration came from three wooden peg dolls I bought from my friend Julie:

Their little hats and scarves are so sweet!  And they each have a little snowflake burned onto them, see?

So I got these three pegs, and I thought, "What am I going to do with them?"  I decided they should be game pieces, and over a couple of days, I dreamed up a winter-themed game that would encourage creative play by letting the players decide the layout of the board each time they play.  Mercedes is working on counting and numbers, so I thought this could help her a bit with that as well.

I bought four green sheets of felt to make the playing "board," and also a sheet of felt that had this sort of rock pattern on it.  I cut "stepping stones" from the rock felt and hand-sewed them on each piece of felt to form a path.

The kids can arrange these in any pattern they like.  They do all fit together to make a loop if they want, but they can also make all sorts of other paths.

Once they set up their path, one person gets to decide where the Skating Pond goes.  That's a big circle cut from white felt that has sparkles on one side.

Another player gets to decide where the little blue figure-eight goes -- if you land on that, you have to lose a turn because you go skating on the pond.

Then the third player gets to decide where the end of the game should be, and place the Hot Chocolate there.  I cut that from red felt and sewed on a little brown dab of "cocoa" and a curl of steam.  After all, when you're done playing outside in the snowy woods, you want to warm up with hot chocolate, right?

To play, you spin a little spinner I made from a heart-shaped piece of wood and a clock hand held on with a thumbtack, with numbers marked with a Sharpie.

There are two other parts of this game:  snowmen and Christmas trees.  The snowmen are just different-sized circles cut from the same sparkly white felt as the skating pond.  Every time you spin a 3, you get to pick a piece for your snowman.

And every time you spin a 1, 2, or 4, you get to collect a small, medium, or large Christmas tree.  I bought them in packs of 8 or 10 at a craft store, as I couldn't think of any good way to make ones that would stand up.  Maybe by next winter, I'll have figured something out.

All the players get to place the trees and snowman pieces around the playing "board" before the game begins.  There's not real "winning" to this game, as usually one person finishes their snowman first, another collects the most trees, and another gets to the Hot Chocolate first.  I encourage my kids to make their playing pieces talk to each other about how much fun it is to play in the snow, what they want for Christmas, etc.

I used leftover felt from the hot chocolate mug to sew up a bag to put the little felt pieces and the peg dolls in.

Now that Christmas is over, I'm trying to think of ways to adapt this to work for other seasons too.  I'm thinking a Spring Game could involve planting trees, picking flowers... we shall see!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

We had these on Christmas Eve morning, and ohhhh are they tasty!  I meant to post the recipe this past week, but... never had time.  Sigh.  I've gotten more done today than I did all last week, which is just silly, but oh well.

The recipe is from here, but I've modified it a bit -- they added a glaze, but we all agreed they were better without the glaze.  It made them too sweet, but without it, they were all yummy cinnamonness.

Cinnamon Crescent Rolls


2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
1 stick of butter -- softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350.  Combine everything but the rolls in a small bowl and beat until smooth.  Separate the dough into triangles like you would for making crescent rolls.  Spread a fairly thick layer of the cinnamon mixture on each triangle -- about 3 Tbsp per roll.  Roll them up like you would to make crescent rolls (starting at the widest end).  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Happy New Year!