Monday, February 13, 2012

Lodge Look Pillow

This weekend was my brother's birthday.  I have a wonderful brother.  He is a great man who is kind to all, family, friends, and strangers.  He is one of a kind.  He takes care of everybody.  So when my sister-in-law said she wanted to throw him a surprise birthday party, I thought it was a wonderful idea.  But what do you get a guy who has very few needs or and even fewer wants?  He loves to hunt, always has, and when he and his wife first married I made them Christmas stockings, one with a buck for him and one with a doe for her.  So when I started searching the Internet for something to give him I knew this would be perfect for him.  His living room is decorated in a lodge theme with some of his prized deer heads mounted and hanging for all to see.  I found my inspiration here.  This lovely lady  from Sew Homegrown was inspired by this pillow from Anthropology.
She had her husband draw a pattern and she made this beautiful pillow:
She has graciously shared the pattern on her blog so all of us to use.   There is also a wonderful step by step tutorial to guide you through the entire process.
It is amazing how changing the fabrics and colors gives you a totally different look.  I went to my local quilt store and chose two complementary fat quarters that went with the colors in my brothers living room.
I used a contrasting color for the back and added one of my labels.  I loved how it turned out.  Needless to say my brother was very happy with it.  His wife has requested the matching doe for her birthday.  I told her the doe would be so much easier because you would just cut the antlers off, the hardest part to sew.  Be sure and tell Jessica I sent you when you visit her blog.  Happy sewing

I am linking here:  The Shady Porch, 3 Mango Seeds

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Valentine Math for Preschoolers

Preschoolers need lots of experience with sorting, counting, and patterning to develop their pre-math skills.  I love to make games for the preschoolers at my center to play.  Yes play, preschoolers learn through play, not ditto sheets.  So every skill you want them to learn needs to be in the form of a hands on, fun, sensory stimulating activity.  I am going to show you some of the activities I will be using with the preschoolers at my school during Valentines.  First you will need to cut about a bajillion hearts in various sizes and colors.  If you are lucky like me, you will find an organization that has an Ellison die cut machine (thanks M-Y Partnership for Children) and use the hound out of it.
The first game is a matching game.  Using black construction paper cut into 4ths, glue at least one pair of matching hearts per color to the paper.  If you make more than one pair of the same color it gives your children a greater opportunity for successfully finding a match.  But whatever you do don't use an odd number of colored cards or you will cause much frustration because they will never be able to  a match. Lol.

Here is a picture of all the hearts I cut and then laminated for extra durability.

With this pile of hearts, you can sort by size.  I have a small size, a medium, and a large.

Next I used a dry erase marker and wrote numbers on the large hearts and then you have the children count out the number of hearts indicated on the big heart.  The dry erase marker wipes off easily with a dry cloth on laminated items.  This way you can reuse the hearts of another activity.  You also see an example of sorting by color in this picture.

This picture shows patterning.  I used a sentence strip and added the hearts in a repeating pattern.  I used the simplest pattern in the example above.
This pattern is a little more difficult and would be used with your older preschoolers.

This would be the most challenging of the three patterning activities because they would have to chose the right color and the right size heart. 

I hope you found something you can use with the preschoolers in your life.  Thanks for reading.  Would love to hear from you and your activities.

Ephesians 1:16

Valentine Mantle

I have never been one who did a lot of decorating for the holidays.  I guess I found it a little intimidating.  Thanks to Pinterest, I am no longer intimidated.  I have been inspired.  Pinterest has shown me that I can take the things I already own and put them together with some things I create (cheaply) and make something I can be proud of.  The mantle in the picture above was created by using 4 items I keep on it all the time, the red topiary, the mirror, the candle stick, and the FAMILY cutout andadding red candles that I already had for Christmas, a silk rose I had in the cabinet, a simple construction paper heart garland, and a Valentine printable I found here and placed in a frame I already had.  So I spent $0.  I am already planning what I want to do for Easter.  I have been scouring Pinterest for ideas. 
Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you will come back later in the week to check out the preschool activities I will be hosting for Valentine's Day themes.  I am sure you will find something you can do with your preschooler. 
Until Next Time
Ephisians 1:16

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mix and Match Muffins

This is a recipe I have been wanting to try for a very long time.  I found it in a book called Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month, by Deborah Taylor-Hough.  I bought this book several years ago, before the big freezer died and I had room to put a months worth of dinners.  This past weekend I decided I wanted to try the Mix and Match Muffins.  We needed something for breakfast and since it was the end of the month I had no money (my husband and I are both teachers and get paid only once a month) to buy anything extra.  I had to use what I had on the shelves. These muffins are like the Burger King of muffins, you can have them "your way."  I will give a list of ideas you can use for mixing and matching at the end of this post.    Now for the ingredients I used.  First you start with the basics.
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Sift these ingredients together in a bowl.  I used a metal drainer as a sifter since the only sifter I have is an antique one I keep in my kitchen for decoration.

The next ingredients need to be placed in a separate bowl.

2 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar

Using a mixer, mix the egg, oil, and sugar until completely mixed.
Time to make these muffins the way you want them.  I used some things I had in the pantry; applesauce I canned this summer, currants leftover after making granola, and pumpkin I have started hoarding ( because it is a seasonal item and not available all year in my area).   Mix and Match add-ins should add up to 2 cups total.  Also add 3 teaspoons of vanilla at this time.
Add the mix and match ingredients to the eggs, oil, and sugar mixture and mix thoroughly
Add the dry ingredients and stir by hand.  Be careful not to over mix or you will get peaks and tunnels in you muffins.  Mix just until flour in incorporated in the liquid ingredients.
At this point if you like nuts or seeds you can stir them in now.  I had some sunflower seeds leftover from some granola I made, so I added those.

Time to put the mix in the muffin pans.  I use a small scoop to place batter in muffin cups.  This assures that your muffins will be uniform in size and that they will all cook evenly.
I lined my pans with cupcake liners.  This will saves clean up and it helps the muffins hold together if you decide to freeze them.  It also keeps them from sticking to each other in the freezer bag.  But if you don't have cup cake liners, you can certainly use cooking spray in the pans to keep the muffins from sticking.
This recipe made 18 regular sized muffins and 24 mini muffins.  The recipe says to bake them for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.  I left mine more like 20 minutes.  I will be making a tropical version this weekend.  I want to use crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, and coconut.

Here is a list of possible mix-ins:
Apples, grated or chopped
Apricots, chopped
Bananas, mashed or chopped
Carrots, cooked and mashed, or grated
Cherries, pitted and chopped
Coconut, grated
Cranberries, dry or raw, chopped
Dates or figs, pitted and finely chopped
Lemon, 1/2 cup juice
Marmalade (omit 1 cup sugar)
Oranges, chopped
Orange juice, 1/2 cup juice
Peaches, fresh or canned, chopped
Pears, fresh or canned, chopped
Pineapple, crushed and well drained
Prunes, chopped
Pumpkin, canned
Rhubarb, finely chopped (add an additional cup of sugar)
Strawberries, well drained
Sweet potato or yams, cooked and mashed or grated
Zucchini, grated and well-drained
As you can see, anything goes.  Would love to hear from you if you try this.  Let me know what mix-ins you used and what combinations you find work the best.  You can make it in a loaf pan instead of muffin pans.  You would adjust the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 1 hour.