Friday, July 29, 2011

Play With Me

Our row this week is entitled Play With Me.  It is about a little girl who goes to the pond to play with the animals.  Because she is too loud they all run away.  But once she learns to site quietly, she finds she is able to get a few playmates!

Abby really has been learning her colors!  So I gave her this fun ducky activity.  She was able to correctly match most of the ducks to the colored word...although she was clueless about "teal".  

William worked on a fun froggie math mat.  He had to correctly match the number with the correct number of frogs in the square.

He colored a duck picture.  He's not a huge fan of coloring, but if he can paste it to construction paper and add clouds...he's all over it!

 Since our book was about a little girl playing by a pond, we took a visit to a local lake, which in my opinion turned out to be more of a pond.  Abby dragged along her purse, of course.

 We went on a nature hike.  We didn't find any animals except snake holes and a few ducks. 

 So I took them to a pet store that had EVEY animal imaginable!  It was such a cool store.  From baby chicks to tortoises, they had it all.

Abby will only color when William is coloring.  I guess coloring doesn't have the same appeal as it did awhile back. 

He learned about the life cycle of a frog.  We will be coming back to this later, when we get a habitat set up for tadpoles. 

We continued our animal classification cards, however these cards were more fun, since they included a riddle about each animal.  William had fun matching the clues to the correct animal.

We are by no means done with this topic/unit.  We will be continuing with this next week. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Watermelon-Basil Sorbet

If there is one recipe you simply must try out, it is this one.  Factor in the ease of preparation and you have a winning combination. Yesterday I realized that the watermelon sitting on our counter needed to be eaten.  Like days ago.  I simply couldn't throw it away, so I ran it through my VitaMix.  I also picked a bunch of basil leaves from the garden, added some honey, sugar, and lemon juice and boiled it.  Then I strained the mix and poured it into the watermelon puree.  I let it sit overnight in the fridge, then I just ran it through my friend's ice cream maker.  (I know, this is one kitchen gadget I do not own.)  The results were spectacular!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beet Bread

Have way too many of these beauties lying around the house?  Yup!  Me too. 

My creativity has been exhausted, and I'm just not digging the beet chocolate milk anymore.  The sauteed beets?  Oh yes, they were good.  The beet smoothies?  Bring it on!  But seriously, my garden is on power mode and is producing like mad.  I had to get creative with these things.  So...

Beet bread!  (John suggested I put something else in the picture to correctly convey the enormous size of this loaf...thus, a garden tomato in the background.  Yes, it's supposed to be green.)

Now, to be fair, this huge red boule of goodness is NOT from my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day book.  Nope.  This beast took up a good four hours of my life.  But oh, was it worth it.  (I did read somewhere that the authors of my five minute bread book have another book that includes beet bread, but this recipe is not from them.  Bummer.  Beet bread in five minutes is quite appealing to me!)

I altered the recipe by cooking the beets first, instead of using only raw beets.  I pureed them in my food processor, then added them to the flour mixture. 

How pretty!  Watch out though, as the mixture does stain a bit.

 This is the dough after rising a couple of hours.  It popped the lid off my container!

My final product! 

The true the littles like it?  Abby was thrilled to be eating pink bread, and William wanted more!  I'd say this bread was a success!

Friday, July 22, 2011


That would be me.  I did finger painting with my kids today for the first time.  And guess what?  I actually enjoyed it!  I did a bit more planning, so I wasn't frantically looking for a much needed towel or brush at the exact moment I needed it.

My budding artists!
I'm not sure why I didn't think to take a picture of him after the final touches of paint were on his paper.  He was a complete paint mess!  But he had so much fun.

Just a random shot of them doing "beading".  Um..okay.

The Carrot Seed

I figured since our carrots are ready to be harvested that this would be a great week to row The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss.  This is a simple book about a boy who plants a carrot seed and everyone tells him it won't come up.  Then one day...

The carrots we planted awhile ago took forever to grow.  Seriously.  I can see why everyone in the book told the little boy his carrots wouldn't come up!  We have had to be very patient with these.  But, we have not been disappointed!  The carrots have grown and now we are enjoying them immensely!  I think the kids were in awe that there were actually carrots under the ground.  I know Abby just couldn't believe it!

William washed them off.

I trimmed the greens off.  It was funny...just as I was getting ready to snap this picture William reaches in the crock pot and eats one!  I have to admit, they were quite good!  (These carrots pictured are only from part of a square in our garden...we still have many more that are still in need of harvesting!)  I don't have pictures, but we made carrot soup.  We put in chicken broth, a garden zucchini, onion, and celery.  John told me afterward, that when I told him we were making carrot soup the thought of it churned his stomach!  He did, however, admit that it was quite yummy!  And pair that with homemade bread....oh my!

We talked about the things that plants need in order to grow. 

We painted carrot pictures.  Note to self...a little pre-instruction next time will save me from headache!  I gave the kids paint and carrots and told them to make carrot pictures.  William used his carrot for painting (good idea!) and Abby...well, she did her own thing.  I went a little bizerk, since paint started going everywhere, colors got mixed...I learned that I need to relax more and have fun.  This was their first time with "real" paint and brushes and I think they did a great job!  I think the paint on Abby's jeans will come.  I hope. 

 I thought his choice of "paint brush" to be wonderfully unique!

 Finished product! 

This was a fun pasting activity, if nothing else.  Putting the pictures in order from smallest to largest was simple, but the kid loves to paste.  Finding carrot pictures tied it into our theme for the week.

We learned a fun rhyme (again, focusing on learning how to rhyme!) that we added motions to.  Abby thought this was SO amusing!

We learned the difference between fruits and vegetables - a fruit has seeds in it, and a veggie does not.  I found some magazine pages that had pictures of fruits and veggies and he cut them out and made a collage out of them. 

We did a fun experiment at the beginning of the week where we attempted to sprout peanuts.  Peanuts grow fast so I thought that in a short amount of time we'd be able to see the beginnings of a small plant.  We got some yarn, put it in a small bowl, soaked it with water, then put three peanuts in.  We covered it with plastic wrap then placed it in a sunny spot. 

Whats that you say?  YOU don't have a bowl of soaking yarn and peanuts on your front doorstep?  Well, a day or so into our "peanut watch" I realized that the peanuts I got were roasted. sprouts.  I quickly swapped them out for several bean seeds.  We are currently still waiting on them and I'll let you know when (or if) they sprout.  

There is just so much that we can do with a seed/plant theme!  These were just some of the books that I found on our shelves that tied into our seed theme.  Many of them were just excellent, explaining quite simply the various parts of the seed, seedling, and small plant. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I am completely enjoying this garden thing!  It is so fun to go outside and see what new things are ready to be harvested. 

 The carrots are growing great!  (Finally!)

This little concoction was a beet smoothie!  (I know, I all want me to hurry with this post so you can rush to the kitchen to make your own!)  I have learned that the best way to skin a beet is to cook them first (either roasted or boiled) then to let them cool.  The skins come off much faster and easier that way.  This smoothie had some beet juice, several beets, a cuke (also from our garden), oranges, and a banana.  It was amazingly good.  I read somewhere that beets must be used sparingly, since they are a detoxing veggie and can cause nausea, so I used 1 part beet to 3 parts fruit/other veggies.  Adding the fruit also cut the sharp taste of the beets down quite a bit.  The kids loved this smoothie!

For my birthday I was given a copy of the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes.  (Thank you Gina and Andy!)  I'm hooked.  That's all I have to say about that!  The recipes in this book are so incredibly easy that baking bread is a cinch.  No kneading is involved, and the dough lasts 2 weeks!  All you have to do is make up a large batch and when you want fresh bread, pull out a hunk and bake it.  Easy!  This is a picture of my first attempt. 

It was John's birthday yesterday, and since he pulled off a lovely surprise birthday party for me, I tried to make his birthday dinner special.  I made a semolina pizza dough (recipe from my new book), topped with homemade pesto, peppers, tomatoes, and chicken.  I grilled both sides of the dough first, then put the toppings on.  This pizza was incredible!  I see more grilled pizzas in our future!

No birthday is complete without some sort of dessert.  We had had a lot of cake the last couple of weeks (my birthday and Abby's birthday) so I opted for grilled nectarines with a cinnamon-coconut sauce.  Oh, and ice cream on the side.  The sauce was SO wonderful, that I bought a pineapple this morning simply so we could have another go at it!  Take a can of coconut milk, put in a cup and a half of sugar (I know, I know!) and one teaspoon of cinnamon.  Dunk the fruit in, and grill.  Easy and oh-so-good!  

I don't have a picture of my latest creation, but it is another keeper!  The kids asked for chocolate milk this I gave in.  However I did pop a fresh (cooked) beet in it, whirled it in the VitaMix and voila!  Healthy chocolate milk! (And man, was it ever tasty!)

What about you?  Any fun, healthy recipes (or not!) that have been a hit?  I'd love to hear!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Red Carpet

I had no intention of rowing this book this week.  The book is out of print, so I wasn't able to buy it.  However, I was able to get it through the library, and since it had already come in, well...I decided to go with it.

What a great book!  It is a rhyming book about a hotel red carpet that gets rolled out for important people.  One day the doorman rolls out the carpet and it just keeps on rolling, all over town, ending at the ferry dock.  And who should be arriving there?  You really should read the book and find out!

Highlights this week include:

Making a Duplo model of the hotel.  At the beginning of the book the hotel was small, but because of the famous person and "magic" carpet, many more people started, two wings were added on either side of the hotel.  William had the idea to add the red Duplo as the carpet coming from the front door.  (His scratched eye is the result of a plastic box falling on his face.  Don't ask. He's almost four and things like this happen.)

In the book policemen are trying to chase down the carpet.  One of our activities focused on policemen and what they do for our community.

This stamping activity really had nothing to do with our was just fun and they got to practice letter recognition...again.  I'd call out a letter, or say a sound, and William would find the letter and stamp it on his paper.  I found these stamps and ink pads in the dollar bin at Target. 

We played an "I spy" game, where he had to spy and gather toys that were red.  Abby enjoyed this game, too, however a few green toys made her cut which threw William into a tizzy.  He promptly ejected them from the "red toy only" mat so I could take a picture.

He colored some pictures in red and glued them on a red piece of construction paper.  Kid loves to glue!

The entire book rhymes, so we talked a lot about rhyming words.  Not sure he completely gets this idea yet.  We'll keep working on it.

That's pretty much it for this book...John threw me a surprise birthday party on Saturday, so we've had grandma and grandpa over at our house this not too much preschool was done (fine by me, as I think I needed a little break!).  It was Abby's 2nd birthday yesterday as well, so we've been doing some serious celebrating over here.