Monday, October 15, 2012

Grandpa Ben's Beef Stew (Not Cheap, But Really Easy!)

Now that the weather is turning colder, it's nice to come home to a pot of stew.  This is my dad's recipe for a delicious and very easy beef stew that even the kids can make.  It's not cheap (I'll leave any substitutions to you), but it's the quality of the meat that carries the taste.  Also, these specific brands are from Publix just because that's what's convenient to my parents' house :) 

Grandpa Ben's Beef Stew

2 packages Filet of Tenderloin ("Tenderloin Tips"), already cubed (about 1.3 pounds)
2 cans baby carrots ("Le Sueur" or "Del Monte" brands)
2 cans of whole potatoes
1 jar of little onions

Oil spray
Worchestire Sauce

Step 1:  Spray oil into big pot. 

Step 2:  Brown meat.

 Step 3:  Pour in onions with the liquid.

Step 4:  Add carrots with the liquid.

Step 5:  Add potatoes without the liquid.

Step 6:  Slop Worchestire sauce and ketchup into the pot, to taste.

Step 7:  Cook for 3 - 6 hours covered.  It should be hot enough that it bubbles with the lid off but not so hot that it boils with the lid on.  Make sense?

Please let me know how yours turns out!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real 19

Short Fall Breaks just started.  Halloween costumes in development.  Church hosting big Oktoberfest tomorrow.  Weather should be great for that--yippee!


Out our front door.

"Alleluia" was working with tracing shapes in the blue sand, but she's in a phase where she has to smell everything!

What 2-year-old doesn't love being read to?!?


This is what the Montessori Room looked like when I came home this morning from doing errands.  One of the teenagers was babysitting.  This represents only about an hour of mess, and there was more in other parts of the house.  Sigh.......  Oh well, at least they had fun and no one was hurt!  :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Flannel Boards

These are drawn on interfacing, a material normally used to add body and strength to clothing.

How to compete with TV?  You can make your storytelling more exciting (and touchable!) with felt boards/flannel boards.  Have you seen those at library story times?  They are simply boards covered with fabric which is clingy (like your toddler some days?!), such that you can easily place and take off fabric figures.

Whether you hang some felt on an easel or just make a little flannel board with a manila file folder, you can punch up your storytelling.

I've made cheap and easy figures out of white interfacing and Sharpie markers and I've made the more complicated, elaborate figures out of felt, dimensional paint, glue and black interfacing.

"Hey Diddle Diddle" -- These were not cheap or easy or quick to make!  But great therapy :)

If you go the interfacing/Sharpie route, it won't be hard to find supplies. Wal-Mart sells the white interfacing and Sharpies are even sold at drug stores.  In good light you'll be able to see through the interfacing well enough to trace over any simple black and white patterns (those can be found in books, on the internet, or you can just make your own).  When you're done cutting and coloring your figures, the interfacing should cling pretty well to either felt or flannel.

If you go the more complicated route you may have to go to more than just your typical Wal-Mart fabric department.  I had to stop at 3 different stores to find black interfacing and flannel in the colors I wanted.  There are a lot of steps to this complicated method, so it's ideal if you want a really nice handmade look and you have the chance to work a little, let your glue or paint dry, and work a little more, etc. (or if you have older kids who are willing to help you).

Wal-Mart sells a 12-pack of assorted felts for under $3.

8-year-old "Peel" helped to trace figures out of the book.  She used a fine-point Sharpie and tracing paper.

There are some good books in our local library system that have nursery rhymes and stories ideal for reading aloud with flannel boards.  I used the The Flannel Board Storytelling Book to make the flannel figures in the "Hey Diddle Diddle" picture above.

I looked up a few links that have some other ideas of how to make these:

Here is a felt board
Here are some (very fancy) tips for working with felt
Flannel Friday is a Pinterest group with new ideas weekly
And here are some more flannel board patterns

Do you have some ideas to add?  Please share!

Shopping List

$1.50 for Thanksgiving Fun

I went to our local toy store yesterday and saw these awesome "Dover Little Activity Books."

They sell for just $1.50 and would be ideal for the long drive to Granny's house or the waiting before the turkey is ready.  I think we'll use ours before Thanksgiving--especially the stained glass booklet, whose pages we can color and hang to decorate.

They would appeal to both boys and girls.  And while the "Pilgrim Girl" and "Tom Turkey" paper dolls require an older child's cutting skills (and maybe some tape for boo boos), the sticker books and coloring books are perfect for younger ones.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two No-Brainers from Wal-Mart

1.  Went to Wal-Mart yesterday and was able to find replacement eye droppers in the pharmacy section for super cheap ($1.49 for two).  I haven't been able to find ours for so long, so several works that require an eye dropper were put on hold...UNTIL NOW.

Besides color mixing works, dropping vinegar into baking soda and lessons on how a drop of water can act as a lens to magnify, eye droppers are great for simply dropping water into these funny soap thingies.  (Sorry--I can't figure out the technical term for those, but I bet your grandma had them and I bet you can find them at garage sales and thrift shops.)

Not only is this a good work for practicing the pincer grasp, I'm here to say it's also therapeutic!  If you are stressed out, try it--you'll like it.

(**Added Oct. 14, 2012:  Just saw this post that uses similar ideas:  Pipettes)

These are glass and the rubber bulb can come off, so do not leave them out for mischievous toddlers!

"Peel" is 8 and she was drawn to this work.  Younger children will need a lesson in how to use the dropper.

The "Point of Interest" here is depositing just one drop at a time.

Why didn't I think of that?  "Peel" and "Chop" immediately wanted to freeze these babies.  They froze solid over night.

2.  The second neat-coolo thing I saw while putting the eye dropper in the cart was this cheap, fuzzy dusting mitt.  Since "Alleluia" is 2.5 years old, this sort of dusting mitt will be easier for her to use than the temporary kind made by folding a small square of cloth onto her fingers and holding it in place with her thumb (we've tried that......many times........epic fail).

This cost only $1.96

Monday, October 8, 2012

Columbus Day Lego Mosaic

Happy Columbus Day!

No one in our family has the day off, so 5 were out the door by 7:05 a.m. (like every other school day) and just 2.5-year-old "Alleluia" and I have been home.  This is what we're doing (oh, this and buying fabric at Wal-Mart for Halloween costumes).  What are YOU up to?

In idea from the box of our Lego Mosaic set.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Jobs a 21-month-old Can Do Alongside You

This is a wonderful post about Pippo, a 21-month-old boy whose mom has found ways to include him in a meaningful way during her workday at home.  Adorable!

Do you have some ideas to add?

round button chicken

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real 18

Happy Feast of St. Francis of Assisi!  

Can you find the "Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real" within this week's pictures that accompany St. Francis' (shortened) "Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon"???

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, 
all glory, all honor and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, 

and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,

So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praise especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather's moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.

No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,

And serve Him with great humility. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

4 Cheapish Things to Do With Young Kids

We've had our share of discombobulation, unexpected travel and required parent nights at school lately. You too? Running on fumes? Here are four tried and true ways to do something mildly amusing without too much outlay of energy, mental powers or moola.

1. Save the cardboard circle the frozen pizza came with.  Let your kids decorate it to make pretend pizza.  If you're lucky they won't ask for stickers, and if you're REALLY lucky this will morph into a game of "Pizza Delivery Guy" until bedtime.

2.  Get thee to the ride-thru carwash.  When I left town this past weekend I suggested to my husband that he let the kids wash the car.  Being a man, he decided to go to the Drive-Thru Carwash instead ("Alleluia" had been asking to do this for a while, but Mommy said that--at $7 a pop--it was too expensive.).  "Gandalf" took "Peel," "Chop," and "Alleluia" and reported that they were mesmerized!  Since they begged to go back, hubbie loaded them all up (plus one of the teenagers) into the second car the next day.  He even sprung for the extra buck to get the Super Dooper Deluxe Wash (this consisted of a spray of purple stuff all over the car).  Just waiting for someone to throw more ketchup at our car so that we can do it all over again.

3.  Corral a bunch of corks and see if they float in the kitchen sink.  Then, when you're done playing, take out the sink stopper and watch the corks circle the drain like spaceships into a Black Hole.

I lucked out recently when helping a friend put away her dishes.  Her silverware shared a drawer with these beauties.  You never can find corks when you need them, so here's me:  "Can I PU-LEEZ have all of your old corks?!?"

I wonder who had more fun:  the people who drank this Gallo or us playing with the corks?

I have some more ideas of things to do with these, so if you have any extra corks, SEND ME SOME, OK?!?

4.  Get the good old standby butterfly net.  Cheap and you can throw it in your car for random emergency entertainment.  "Alleluia" and I spend a lot of our time waiting:  for her older siblings to get out of school, for Daddy to come out of the car repair place, for piano lessons to be over, etc.  She is convinced that one day she will actually catch a butterfly, but I think it's all about the thrill of the chase.

These little moth guys love the statue of the child Jesus behind school!