Monday, May 20, 2013

Mr. Cookie Baker

Earlier post from here.   And here.

This is a great children's book, and the recipe for sugar cookies at the end is fantastic.

Mr. Baker's Cookie Recipe

2 1/2 cups flour (divided)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP milk

Mix together 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make the dough stiff enough to roll into a ball. Chill at least one hour. Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough out on floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until nicely browned.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Thunder Cake

This one is a repost from here.

I grew up in southern California where thunder and lightening were rare.  When we'd go to our cabin in the mountains in southern Utah in the summer, the thunder was so loud on the aluminum roof and the lightening lit the black sky, it was amazing to me as a kid. Then I went to college in Utah and thunderstorms were common, I loved the summer thunderstorms when I could get drenched in rain while it was warm out.  When Princess Sparkley was 3 and Buddy was 17 months we moved to Kansas.  The kids were not a fan of thunderstorms.  I don't think I'd ever heard anything like a Kansas thunderstorm with the loudest BOOM BOOMs ever, until we moved to Virginia.  I didn't think Kansas thunder could get topped, but either Virginia's thunder is louder, or they are very close.  This morning was another one of those loud storms.  Thunder so loud it woke me and the big kids up.  It shook the house. The storm was weak compared to a Kansas storm, but the thunder...  The thunder inspired me to read the book Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco to the kids again.  A book my mom bought us when we were living in Kansas and the kids were terrified of thunderstorms. And this time, we braved the recipe (which includes pureed tomatoes) and made a Thunder Cake.  

This interview with the author talks about the real life story behind the book:

While looking around for other ideas to go along with the book, I found this post of a woman who tweaked the thunder cake recipe a bit, and took way better pictures than me.

And we drew pictures of thunder.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bread and Jam for Frances

I loved this book when I was little, and every house is probably full of some picky eaters so this made for a fun read with the kids.  My kids all thought it was hilarious how much food Frances and her friend brought in their school lunches.

Here's the bread recipe we used that I got from a friend (Angela) back in college.  I love this bread because it is a bit sweet.  It reminds me a little of King's Hawaiian bread.


In a small bowl: 
3 packages yeast, 1 cup warm water, 3 tsp. sugar and a pink of all purpose flour sprinkled.

Let stand while you mic up the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.

In a big bowl:
First stir dry ingredients together.  
4 cups bread flour, 3/4 cups sugar, 2 tsp. salt.

Stir in next three ingredients separately:
3/4 cup warm water, 3 eggs, 2/3 cups oil.

After mixing 6 ingredients together, add the yeast mixture to it.*  Take dough out of bowl and knead about 20 times with hands.  Pick up dough and gently place in bottom of large container and cover with a towel.  Let rise 2 hours then punch down.  Divide into 4** equal parts.  Knead each dough ball about 10 times.  Form each dough ball into loaf shape and place into 4 greased loaf pans.  Cover again with towel and let rise until dough is 3/4 the way up loaf pan (about 2 hours).  Beat one egg and brush on top of loaves.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.***  Remove from oven.  Let cool before placing in plastic bag.

*I made this bread a lot a decade ago.  Since then, not so much.  In my memory, this worked perfectly but making it this time, I added probably an addition cup of flour.  Judge if your dough is too sticky or not and add flour accordingly.

**I've never gotten four loaves out of this.  Usually two really large ones.  If I had a third loaf pan, I'd go with three loaves.

***I always start checking at 20 to be safe.

I LOVE this new jam from Welch's.

Pizza at Sally's

We make homemade pizza quite a lot.  For several months a couple years ago, I was making homemade pizza each Friday.  Usually I was trying different dough recipes, sometimes I'd buy the ready made dough from Trader Joe's.  Then there were times we were creative with bagel pizzas, English muffin pizzas or French bread pizzas. This time we tried Sally's recipe.

Books and Food

Two of my favorite things are books and food.  A few years ago I came across a blog of a woman who was going to run sort of a virtual book club for kids that involved recipes to go with the books.  I LOVED this idea.  But it never took off.  We read the book and waited and waited and waited, but she never came back to blog about it and provide a fun recipe.  A few months ago, I decided I should take advantage of some of our own book and food adventures.

Eventually I'll plug in the external hard drive and add some posts from the past few years as well.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Excellent Journal Topic

I got this email the other day from Jed with the subject: homework assignment for [Princess Sparkley] and [Buddy].
1. Watch this video: It is five minutes long. Watch the entire thing.
2. Answer these questions: a) Is this woman a good basketball player? b) How do you think she got her skills? c) What in your life do you want to do as much as she wanted to shoot baskets? d) Are you doing it? Why or why not? e) What is your plan to start doing it, or to do it even better?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Read Aloud List

Earlier I posted the list of books we read aloud to our kids in 2009 and part of 2010, here's the complete list (not counting picture books).  Our list starts in 2006 when Princess Sparkley was 4 and Buddy was 2.  I think The Phantom Tollbooth was the book Jed was currently reading when PS wandered up to him and asked him to read it aloud.  She's recently reread it on her own, but as a 4 year old, I think she just liked being with her daddy.

The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster
Charlotte's Web E.B. White
The Mouse and the Motorcycle Beverly Cleary
Stuart Little E.B. White
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum
Runaway Ralph Beverly Cleary
Ralph S. Mouse Beverly Cleary
Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass Lewis Carroll
Pippi Longstocking Astrid Lindgren
Sarah, Plain and Tall Patricia MacLachland

Winnie-the-Pooh A.A. Milne
The House at Pooh Corner A.A. Milne
Matilda Roald Dahl
Pippi Goes on Board Astrid Lindgren
Pippi in the South Seas Astrid Lindgren
Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy Laura Ingalls Wilder
Thanksgiving on Thursday Mary Pope Osborne
Good Morning, Gorillas Mary Pope Osborne
High Tide in Hawaii Mary Pope Osborne
Thomas the Tank Engine W. Awdry

Now We Are Six A.A. Milne
On the Banks of Plum Creek Laura Ingalls Wilder
Junie B., First Grade: Boo...and I Mean It! Babara Park
Stage Fright of a Summer Night Mary Pope Osborne
Faster Than Fast Irene Trimble
By the Shores of Silver Lake Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Long Winter Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little Town on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder
Peter Pan J.M. Barrie
These Happy Golden Years Laura Ingalls Wilder
The First Four Years Laura Ingalls Wilder
Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson and Nancy Fletcher-Blume
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Betty MacDonald
Clementine Sara Pennypacker
Heidi Johanna Spyri and Mary Caprio
The Mound Builders William E. Scheele
Otis Spofford Beverly Cleary
High Tide in Hawaii Mary Pope Osborne
Ramona the Pest Beverly Cleary
The Curse of the Bologna Sandwich Greg Trine
Toys Go Out... Emily Jenkins
Toy Dance Party... Emily Jenkins

The Story of Trains Jane Bingham
Ivy and Bean Annie Barrows
The Buried Biscuits Darrel and Sally Odgers
Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Betty MacDonald
The Lying Postman Darrel and Sally Odgers
Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye Geronimo Stilton (a.k.a. Elisabetta Dami)
Ramona the Brave Beverly Cleary
Hotel for Dogs Lois Duncan
Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go Annie Barrows
Bubble and Squeak Philippa Pearce
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 Beverly Cleary
Dog Den Mystery Darrel and Sally Odgers
Ramona Forever Beverly Cleary
The Littles to the Rescue John Peterson
The Borrowers Mary Norton
Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid Megan McDonald
Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery
The Case of the Invisible Dog E.W. Hildick
Freddy the Detective Walter R. Brooks
Danger at the Zoo Kathleen Ernst
Nicholas Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe
Nicholas Again Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe
The Cat Who Got Away Allan Ahlberg
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone J.K. Rowling
The Castle Corona Sharon Creech
Nurk... Ursula Vernon
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets J.K. Rowling

The Grateful Fred Greg Trine
Nicholas and the Gang Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe
The Revenge of the McNasty Brothers Greg Trine
Nicholas in Trouble Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe
The Sausage Situation Darrel and Sally Odgers
Mary Poppins P.L. Travers
Terror in Tights Greg Trine
Nicholas on Vacation Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe
Stone Fox John Reynolds Gardiner
Attack of the Valley Girls Greg Trine
I, Jack Patricia Finney
Dominic William Steig
Jack and Rebel, the Police Dog Patricia Finney
The Kitnapped Creature Darrel and Sally Odgers
Utterly Me, Clarice Bean Lauren Child
The Fake Cape Caper Greg Trine
Clarice Bean Spells Trouble Lauren Child
Bunnicula Deborah and James Howe
Ginger Pye Eleanor Estes
Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles Rupert Kingfisher
Pinky Pye Eleanor Estes
Space Dogs Justin Ball and Evan Croker
The Brotherhood of the Traveling Underpants Greg Trine
The Awful Pawful Darrel and Sally Odgers
Clarice Bean, Don't Look Now Lauren Child
Puppy Power Judy Cox
I, Houdini Lynne Reid Banks
Magic Treehouse: Mummies in the Morning Mary Pope Osborne
I, Freddy Dietlof Reiche
The Willoughbys Lois Lowry
The Mouse and the Motorcycle Beverly Cleary
Tales from the Odyssey: The One-Eyed Giant Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Treehouse: Hour of the Olympics Mary Pope Osborne\
Stuart's Cape Sarah Pennypacker
The Little Prince Antoine Saint-Exupery

A Dog Called Grk Joshua Doder
Invasion From Planet Dork Greg Trine
The Phantom Mudder Darrel and Sally Odgers
The Name of This Book Is Secret Pseudonymous Bosch
Grk and the Pelotti Gang Joshua Doder
Abel's Island William Steig
Chasing Vermeer Blue Balliett
The Mugged Pug Darrel and Sally Odgers
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen Eric Berlin
Amazing Monty Johanna Hurwitz
Grk and the Hot Dog Trail Joshua Doder
Martin Bridge Blazes Ahead Jessica Scott Kerrin
Man Out at First Matt Christopher
The Great Brain John D. Fitzgerald
The Blue Stealer Darrel and Sally Odgers
More Adventures of the Great Brain John D. Fitzgerald
Long Stretch at First Base Matt Christopher
Babe Dick King-Smith
Mostly Monty Johanna Hurwitz
Me and My Little Brain John D. Fitzgerald
Inspector Jacques Darrel and Sally Odgers
Grk: Operation Tortoise Joshua Doder
Honus & Me Dan Gutman
The Wright 3 Blue Balliett
Comet in Moominland Tove Jansson
The London Eye Mystery Siobhan Dowd
Mighty Monty Johanna Hurwitz
Grk Smells a Rat Joshua Doder
Cranky Paws Darrel and Sally Odgers
Henry Reed, Inc. Keith Robertson
The Pig Scrolls Paul Shipton
Charlotte's Web E.B. White
The Mysterious Benedict Society Trenton Lee Stewart
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azcaban J.K. Rowling
The Invention of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznik
Peter and the Starcatchers Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Finn Family Moomintroll Tove Jansson
If You're Reading This, It's Too Late Pseudonymous Bosch
Henry Reed's Journey Keith Robertson
The Great Brain at the Adademy John D. Fitzgerald
Moominpappa's Memoirs Tove Jansson
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Shipyards of Doom Henry Gilroy
Holes Louis Sachar

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Butterfly Life Cycle

by Princess Sparkley

by Buddy

by Little Guy
Little Guy loved this so much that he made two or three more (without the white circles), but he still drew each of the 4 steps (egg, larva, pupa, adult).

Idea from here.  And we might do this also.

President's Day

We focused on George Washington because we are in the middle of studying about the Revolutionary War.  We checked out a bunch of books from the library and read some fun facts about him.  Then we  did some President's Day art projects.  George Washington picture from here.

GW by Buddy

by Princess Sparkley

Other fun projects I found: a tri-corner hat cookiea GW wig out of toilet paper rolls, use their coins to make these finger puppets, and a presidential mobile.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sky

We've been studying constellations, the moon and the sun for science lately, here are some of our projects.  I got all my ideas from Pinterest.

Buddy (above) and Princess Sparkley (below) each chose six constellations they wanted to learn about.  We painted little pieces of paper, researched, created rough drafts, and then created this final project.  We used a hole punch to make the constellations, then glued them to a bright yellow sheet of cardstock and labeled them.   Ideas from here and here.

We typed up information about the constellations and glued them on back.  Buddy (above) and Princess Sparkley (below).  I ended up doing a lot of Buddy's research, it was fun and he helped me decide what we wanted to include.

 Then we studied about the earth's rotation and seasons.  They had to glue these earths on so that the correct hemisphere was closest to the sun for the correct season drawn on the back corner.  Buddy (above) and Princess Sparkley (below).  Idea from here.

 Then, with Oreos, we created the phases of the moon.

Idea from here

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Art

Snowglobe (idea from here)

If I lived in a snow globe... I would make hot chocolate and go sledding every day.  I would also play with my Husky!

If I lived in a snowglobe... it would snow all day and I would probably build snowmans.

If I lived in a snowglobe... I would drink lots of hot chocolate because it snows every day in there.  I would also play in the snow a lot.  I would probably make a HUGE sledding hill.

Snowmen from a different perspective (idea from here)
by Princess Sparkley

by Buddy

by Little Guy

And I had the kids draw a roof top scene from The Night Before Christmas.  (idea from my brain)
by Princess Sparkley

by Little Guy (he didn't have room for reindeer so he drew an engine on his sled.  And Santa is throwing snowballs.)

by Buddy

Next week we're doing this and drinking hot chocolate.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I realize it is now November, but I still feel like we're just staying afloat as schooling goes this year.  We were out of town until September 7 and when we arrived home, we arrived to a barely unpacked, recently moved into townhome (my husband did all the moving while we were still in California) and had to unpack and organize, etc.  So our school year got a late start to begin with. 

And in the past, I've followed the Virginia Standards of Learning to sort of help shape what the kids and I will study each year but this is the first year we'll be repeating a grade.  Two years ago, in Virginia, Princess Sparkley was a 2nd grader.  This year it's Buddy's turn in 2nd grade.  For units like History and Science, we tend to group them together and give Buddy the simpler version of Princess Sparkley's more advanced assignments.  This year he should study China and Ancient Egypt along with some Native American tribes.  It all seems to recent to me, I have no desire to delve right back into the same stuff so soon so we're sort of breaking things up.  I realize I could delve into different stuff about the same countries, and maybe we will.  But for now, I feel like we're unschooling.  But unschooling for us is not the technical definition of unschooling which isn't a way we could do homeschooling.  What I'm doing is sort of letting the kids' interests (and mine) dictate what we're studying in some subjects more than I have in the past.  For instance, we spent a ton of time on maps and geography.  And now we're learning about whales and dolphins.  Eventually we'll get to some stuff about China and Ancient Egypt, among other things, but for now, I'm happy with our version of unschooling.

"Every Child is an Artist."

My kids create enough "art" to take out a rain forest, so I've always needed a good art wall where I can display it. In Kansas our door was metal so we'd magnet all their art to the back of the door. I've thought before of pinning up some yarn and clipping the kids' art to it, similar to how a friend did it down her hallway in Kansas, but I'm loving these ideas. The first is actually what our curtain rods are right now, from IKEA.

from here

from here

I love the quote on this one... from here.

from here

from here

from here

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First Day of School - Sort of

Not techinically the first day of school.  These were taken sometime in October.  Princess Sparkley turned nine over the summer and is in 4th grade this year.  Buddy just had his half birthday last week and is now 7 1/2 and a second grader.  Little Guy is probably about 3 3/4 and is doing some art, handwriting, letters and numbers this year with me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Journals

Tomorrow, my kids start their new summer journals.  We spiffed them up a bit with spray glue and scrapbook paper.  Princess Sparkley chose sea shell paper (anticipating hitting the beach later this summer when we get to go to California!!).  Buddy chose a bright sparkly blue design.  Little Guy chose Thomas the Tank Engine paper and I made him a little book with printer paper stapled inside.  My goal is to let them draw a lot, write a lot, and include a lot of photographs.  Which means I have to actually get prints made (or buy color ink for the printer) of some of our summer adventures.  There are also some great journal ideas here and here and here.

idea from here
Mostly, we all need to get in the habit of being better journal writers.  But also, Princess Sparkley needs to work on her handwriting and capitalization skills.  And Buddy needs to work on his handwriting and spelling.  Little Guy, is just enjoying drawing and writing so much lately that he'll probably have the most fun with this.  He can even write his own name all by himself, half the time he writes it completely backwards, but he's also our only lefty so maybe we have some kinks to work out.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fourth of July plans

How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA
McDuff Saves the Day
The Scrambled States of America

Firework Sugar Cookies
Ice Cream Sandwich Pops (hat tip: The Crafty Crow)
Stained Glass Jello (hat tip:  The Crafty Crow)
Fourth of July Caramel Corn (hat tip: Tidy Mom)
Peach Cobbler
Apple Pie
Apple Pie Squares
Fourth of July Cupcake in a Jar

Crafts and Experiments:
Fireworks in a Dish
Firework decorations
Patriotic Ribbon Wand
Paper Fireworks
Lady Liberty art project
Patriotic Fabric Pennant
Fourth of July Blow Art
Handprint Fireworks

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The New Food "Pyramid"

Check it out with your kids.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Freckle Juice by Judy Blume


 By Princess Sparkley

 By Buddy

100th Day of School

Okay, so we're a little behind as far as the typical 100th day of school celebrations... it seems like those fall in mid to late February.  But we started late because grandparents were in town in September and then we follow B's college schedule and had about a month off for Christmas.  So Tuesday was our 100th day of school and for the first year ever (and I told the kids not to expect this celebration to happen EVERY year now) we celebrated!

 First we made 100 day of school "glasses."

 Then we read:
One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinszes
Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten by Joseph Slate

Counting Our Way to the 100th Day! by Betsy Franco

Then the kids drew pictures of what they think they'll look like when they are 100 years old.

I love Princess Sparkley's drawing.

I love that Buddy's drawing looks exactly the same as his normal self-portraits, only with a mustache.

We counted out 100 Fruit Loops (although we used the fruity Cheerios... I'd recommend Fruit Loops, I think they have a bigger hole).  And by "we," I mean Princesss Sparkley.  Buddy strung up about 15 and Little Guy just ate his.

Then we made a trail mix: 20 peanuts, 20 raisins, 20 peanut butter chips, 20 chocolate chips and 20 M&Ms.  Little Guy was off on his numbers and somehow ended up with most of the M&Ms.  

Buddy gathered up 100 Lego pieces.  Princess Sparkley drew 100 stars on a paper.  I didn't get pictures.