Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veterans Day

First of all, I want to say thank you to all of our US Veterans!  I appreciate your service...past and present.  My dad was an Army Veteran.  Tomorrow (Veterans Day) would have been my mom & dad's 45th wedding anniversary so it was always an extra special day for our family!    Be sure to say thank you and show appreciation to the Veterans in your life.  My kids made cards for the residents of the local Veterans home.

I also wanted to share a website.  It's geared more for school age kids but parents / teacher's of younger children still might gain something useful from it.   VA Kids

Also, this is a really simple but sweet flag that your child could make and hand deliver to a Veteran that you know.   Veterans Day Flag Note.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Leaf Art's and Crafts

Are you looking for some fun and easy fall projects?  Take a nature walk and collect leaves with your children or students.   Provide construction paper and glue to make leaf animals!   Here are some great ideas to get you started.  Let the children be creative and just have fun!

Leaf Animals

Here is another fun way to use some of the collected leaves.  Provide some string and beads and have fun with Leaf Threading.

Of course, you can also make leaf rubbings.  Lay a leaf between two pieces of paper, use the side of an unwrapped crayon and instruct the children to rub the crayon over the paper.  The outline of the leaf will appear.

You can also make a leaf wreath.  Provide one paper plate for each child.  Cut the middle out of each plate.   The children can glue leaves all over the plate.  Add a string to hang your pretty fall leaf wreath.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

The Mailbox Magazine. A Teacher Resource.

Back when I was a newer teacher, I used to subscribe to The Mailbox Magazine.  It was a wonderful resource for teachers,  filled with many cute and fun ideas.   I haven't subscribed to that magazine in many years so I honestly don't know how much it's changed over the years.   Today, I was thinking about how much I used to enjoy that magazine.  I still have a few of my copies from the 1990's!   For those not familiar, it was filled with ideas submitted by teachers.  I went to their website to check it out and they are still offering them today.   You can probably find them on the shelves in teachers stores if you want to page through one but they will likely be less expensive online.   Here is the link to The Mailbox Magazine.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Autumn Fabric Wreath

I was searching online for ideas for a fall wreath to make with my kids.  Check out what I found!  Adorable and so easy!   Autumn Fabric Wreath   I can't wait to get some fabric and give this a try.  I happen to have wire hangers.  I'll do the hanger bending part but my kids can easily tie the fabric onto the wire.   Love this!

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fall Cuteness!

Happy Fall from Peppermint the bunny!


We had a fall fun day on Saturday.  We went to a couple of apple orchards, went through a corn maze and picked our pumpkins from the pumpkin patch.  When we got home and set up our pumpkins, I thought it would be fun to take a few pictures of our new bunny (Peppermint Twist) with the fall decorations.  Turns out, she loves to play with straw.  Thankfully, she did not take a bite out of any of our pumpkins during my photo shoot with her.  She's such a little cutie!

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kid's Favorite Homemade Potato Soup!

My kids really like my homemade potato soup so I thought I would share my recipe here.  It's a great way to get them to eat a bunch of vegetables.  I've been enjoying the cooler soup weather lately :)  I rarely measure anything but I'll do my best to give you a good idea of how to make my soup.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Two large carrots peeled and chopped
About 12 medium to large potatoes peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery rinsed and chopped
Dried Parsley
Favorite seasoning if desired  (I like Zehnder's chicken seasoning)
Salt and pepper
Cream cheese (I use about 2 Tablespoons of Fat Free)
Milk (I use about 1/2 cup of 2% milk)
Butter (about 2 Tablespoons)
Chicken Broth (32 oz)
One small onion (chopped)
Yellow bell pepper (you could omit this, I normally don't put it in but I had about 1/4 of a pepper that needed to be used and it turned out to be a nice addition)
Shredded cheddar cheese (I used a couple handfuls)

Wash, peel & chop all veggies and add to a cooking pot.  Pour chicken seasoning and milk over the veggies and add to stove top.  Sprinkle seasonings, herbs and add butter if desired.  Simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender enough to mash.  When mashing veggies, you may want to leave a few chunks.  I like ours this way.   After mashing, add desired amounts of cream cheese and cheddar cheese (this will help thicken the soup).  Enjoy!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Fun and Cute Apple Themed Treats!

The leaves are just starting to have a hint of color and the temps are getting a bit cooler.  Fall is in the air!  This has me thinking of apples!   Today I was looking for some apple themed treat ideas and I found some cute stuff to try.  Check these out!

The Apple of our Eye Cupcakes from Family Fun

Krispy Apple Treats from Gourmet Mom on the Go

Caramel Apple Cookies (on a stick with no caramel or apples) from The Decorated Cookie

Mini Oreo Apple Pops from The Crafting Chicks

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Silly Soup Switch-Up

Sometimes, it's just fun to break out of the routine and have some crazy, out of the ordinary fun at meal time.   I called everyone to the kitchen.  I let everyone (kids first) choose one item that would be used for eating or drinking and then directed them to the place where they would be sitting.   I gave instructions about the items on the table and how they would be "re purposed" for our silly soup meal.   Some people would be eating soup with stirring spoons and others eating out of a mini bread pan.  Some would be drinking soup from a mug and others would be drinking water from a measuring cup or bowl.   Rather than just putting out soup bowls and spoons, I thought it would be far more fun to enjoy our meal in a non-traditional way.  Everyone had a great time and there were lots of giggles around the table.   

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gluten Free / Wheat free Chocolate Chip Pancake Bar

I bought some allergy friendly pancake mix (Cherrybrook Kitchen, Gluten Free Dreams) and allergy friendly chocolate chips (Enjoy Life) and decided it would be fun to have a little chocolate chip pancake bar for a Sunday lunch.  I set out some fresh raspberries, syrup, whipped cream, squeeze yogurt and dried fruits.  Fresh blueberries and strawberries would have been great too but mine are frozen so I didn't bother with those.  Really just about any fruit would probably be good.  I told my kids they could serve themselves and decorate their pancakes anyway they wanted.   They had a ton of fun creating but most of the fun was eating.   They said it was better than going to a restaurant.   I enjoyed eating them too!  Above is a picture of my creation :)  I was going to take pictures of the kids pancakes too but they started eating them before I had the chance!

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to School Fun!

Those of you whose children have started school already (home school, private school, public school, etc...), any fun first week of school traditions? If you have yet to start, anything special planned? I know some people go out for a special treat after the first day of school. Every new school year, I like to give my children one small surprise for each day during the first week of school. I spend one day by myself shopping for inexpensive but fun little items and then I hide one item per day in their rooms or place it on their pillows. Usually the last day is the Grand Finale with two small things, a treat or an outing to celebrate the completion of the first week of school. It gives my kids something to be really excited about & look forward too after the school day is over. My mom did this for me when I was in Kindergarten and to this day, I have wonderful memories of it.   I started this tradition with my kids the first week of Kindergarten too.  They loved it so much that I decided to do it each new school year. If you do anything special, no matter how big or small, please share. I love hearing new ideas.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

End of Summer and another new pet!

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer.  We still have about a week left before a new routine is underway.   School will start here on September 4th.  We had a wonderful summer filled with many fun adventures and activities.    It's always hard to get back into a routine after so many fun filled days and no alarm clocks.  A couple highlights were a visit to a theme park and a week of vacation at our favorite cottage in northern Michigan .   After a lot of pressure, I finally opened the box of our cotton candy maker this summer and made cotton candy for my kids and neighborhood friends.  It was a pretty big deal.   My twins were given the machine back in February as a birthday gift and I figured, if I'm not going to let them do it during the summer...when will I ever do it?  It was a little messy but great fun for the kids.   Our most exciting news is that we brought home a new furry family member about a week ago.  A Rex bunny that my girls named Peppermint Twist.  She is almost 5 weeks old and super soft and cute!   She belongs to my twins and is supposed to be their responsibility.  We will see how that goes.  Our dog Charley is doing great with her but needs close supervision ;)  We've also had a summer filled with doctor appointments.  Allergy doctor, Pediatric Gastroenterologist and ENT doctor.  One of my daughters struggles with terrible acid reflux and we are spending a lot of time & effort trying to get that issue cured.  Both of my girls had their tonsils and adenoids out on August 23rd so they are currently recovering.   They are eating lots of frozen treats and watching more movies than I would typically allow.   They are also keeping me really busy waiting on them.  I gave them bells to ring and they have done a good job milking it.  So that is a quick recap of our summer.   I would love to hear about some of your summer adventures too. 

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dairy-free, soy free, gluten free and peanut free "ice-cream"

My daughter has some food allergies so it's always wonderful when we find good frozen treat alternatives for her.  I'm going to give this super easy recipe a try.   We have SunButter in the pantry and frozen bananas in the freezer.  We're going to a birthday party today and since she can't have cake or ice cream, I think I might bring some along.   A two ingredient "ice-cream" made with SunButter and frozen bananas.  Doesn't get much easier.   Enjoy!   SunButter ice-cream

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Enjoying Summer

What fun activities have you been doing this summer?  It seems like my kids and I have been gone nearly everyday for the past few weeks.   We've been trying to pack in play dates with friends we don't get to see often during the school year.  We've done several picnics at parks, beach days & pool days.   We've also been having fun getting good use out of our zoo and museum memberships.   Have I told you lately how much I love memberships?!! They save me a lot of money.   We went ice skating a couple weeks ago.   That was something different and really fun for my kids.  On hot days (we've had a LOT of really HOT days!) when we are at home, we bought a slip and slide that is great fun.   My kids also love to get a pile of paintbrushes and buckets of water and invite friends over to "paint" the house, deck, patio, rocks, etc.  I fill the kid pool up with water and let them go to town painting whatever their hearts desire.  Fun stuff.   It's great that kids are as happy as can be with simple summer pleasures such as a $15.00 pool, a $10.00 slip and slide and a pack of balloons from the dollar store.  Add a few friends in the mix and it's a grand day!   Some things we are still looking forward to doing:  Blueberry picking, a vacation to a cottage on lake and a mommy/daughters trip to Shipshewana, Indiana.  I need to get busy planning our girls trip!   I would love to hear about some of your summer activities and adventures.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Drowning...please read!

With the hot summer weather many families are enjoying spending time in pools and at lakes.  Please take a couple of minutes to read this article.  Drowning doesn't look like drowning.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Family Friendly Movie Reviews

I enjoy watching movies with my kids but I'm very selective about the movies I will allow my children to watch.    I'm thankful for movie review websites so we can better decide which ones are appropriate for our children.   I wanted to pass along a couple of sites that I've found helpful.

I recently found this movie review website.  It's called Box Office Mom

Another great site that I often use for movie reviews is Plugged In which is by Focus on the Family.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Surprises!

This morning I surprised my kids with light up heart spinners and Valentine snow globes.  They loved their surprises.   My husband is working tonight but we're planning to go out for a nice lunch on a different day.  Restaurants are too busy on Valentine's Day anyhow.  Maybe I'll make heart shaped pancakes and strawberry banana fruit smoothies for dinner :)  My kids will love that!   Happy Valentine's Day!

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Fun, Easy Valentine's Day Craft.

Here is a cute and easy Valentine's Day craft to do with your preschoolers.  

Items needed:
Toilet paper tube
Construction paper
Pipe Cleaner
Crayon or marker

Valentine Butterfly!
Cut a piece of construction paper to size and let your child roll it around the toilet paper tube (covering the entire tube).  Glue to secure.  Precut the heart shaped wings and let your child glue them to the back of the tube.  Cut one pipe cleaner in half.  Tape pipe cleaners to the inside of the tube.  Provide small cut-outs or markers / crayons for creating a face and decorating the wings.  You could also write a note on the wings and use this as a Valentine "card" that your child could give to a special family member or friend.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review of "Connect the Dots and Color" Android app

     Earlier today I mentioned a preschool app being offered for free today in the Amazon Appstore for Android.  I've had some time to use it now and wanted to offer up a quick review.
While the app has been getting mostly negative reviews (2 star average as of this writing) I actually thought better of it than that.  I knew from reading the reviews that the main complaint was that the "connect-the-dot" pictures didn't start with the letter they were supposed to illustrate.  (The letter E for instance uses a picture of a fire truck that incorporates the E structure into the connect-the-dot design.)  Knowing this  beforehand made it easier to deal with while exploring it.  It's possible that it might be confusing for a preschooler but not as much as some reviewers seemed to think.  Kids don't always think too deeply about the meanings that we adults assign to things.
     Our seven year old daughters were very fascinated by the coloring of the pictures after they connected the dots.  They blew through the whole alphabet and started over again with the numbers.  They actually started arguing over whose turn it was to color.  I would have assumed they were too old to have any interest in a game designed for preschool aged kids.  I think in a similar way most preschoolers will easily overlook the fact that the pictures don't start with the letter being illustrated.  This app will let them have some fun while gaining familiarity with letters and numbers.
     Definitely get this game if only for the fact that it's free.  You shouldn't be surprised though if your child ends up loving it and being fascinated by all the dot-connecting and coloring.

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Free preschool app today (1/24) at

Amazon's Android app store has a free app every day.  Today's free app is "Connect the Dots and Color".  It's an app for preschoolers that helps with learning numbers and letters while letting them create art. 
You can beat the price so I would head right over and pick it up before it goes back to $1.99!
Amazon Appstore

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Silly Snow Day Superstitions

Last night my twins wanted to flush ice-cubes down the toilet and make a wish for a snow day.  They have some new Lego's that arrived via UPS yesterday and they have big plans to play with them today.  They went all out and flushed ice cubes down 2 of our toilets and made a double wish.  Well, guess's a snow day!  Yeah for snow!  They will be so excited.

What silly snow day superstitions have you heard of?  I've also heard of sleeping with a spoon under the pillow and wearing pj's inside out & backwards.   I'm not at all a superstitious person but I am a fan of having fun and being silly.  I think we'll make some snow ice cream today :)

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Snow Ice Cream.

One of our all-time favorite winter activities is making snow ice cream.  We've not been very fortunate in the snow department of late but when it does come we are sure to make some.  Rather than repeat the recipe you can click here to see an older post about this fun and delicious treat.
Do you have any other "cool" ideas for snow food?  Leave a comment below!

The finished product!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fun with Boxes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  We enjoyed the holiday's very much.  We did a lot of online shopping for Christmas presents this year.  What this means is that we have an abundance of boxes.  I think my kids enjoy boxes as much as the gifts inside (and sometimes more).  They get so creative with boxes.   Houses, cars, puppet theaters, doll houses, store fronts, treasure boxes, boats, drive-in- movie theaters, etc.   These are just a few of the fun things my kids enjoy creating with boxes.   I wonder at what age kids stop being entertained by boxes.  If you have some fun ideas involving boxes, please share!

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