Monday, June 29, 2009

Dinosaur Theme Day - Part 1

Recently I received some comments on my post about our family's Reward/Activity Jar and more specifically our theme days. Theme days are a lot of fun and can even be spread out across a whole week if enough activities are planned. I usually keep the theme going for a day and just rotate the books, movies and activities each time it is chosen but that is just my personal preference.

The following is a short list of some dinosaur activities that are usually incorporated in ALL of our dinosaur days. I will be posting an extended dinosaur theme list shortly including crafts and learning activities, I am just waiting for us to have one so I can grab some pictures of the kids having fun.

First and foremost, no Dinosaur theme day can be rightfully started (or ended) without a rendition of Laurie Berkner's - We Are The Dinosaurs while having an all-out, ground stomping roar fest as loud as the kids (and neighbors) can handle.

We do lots of things with our big bucket of dinosaur counters such as sorting, counting and pattern work.

Lunch or dinner depending on the day, always consists of dinosaur chicken nuggets served with a side of trees (broccoli).

Although we read this book a lot on non-dinosaur days, it always makes it appearance when it is a theme day.

Any of the Jane Yolen & Mark Teague, How Do Dinosaur...books would also be a good choice too.

My boys love this DVD featuring Elmo and Abby...

But the Land Before Time series is another good choice.

Check back soon as I will be adding more of our dinosaur craft and learning activities real soon!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Best $45.00 Spent In A Long Time

My sons have been asking for water guns for so long now but for some reason I kept saying NO!!!

My hesitation was not because of any anti-gun issues but more on the lines that my children did not want a shooter of the Dollar Store variety they wanted "big ones, that go far", I did not see the need in spending $40.00 on two toy guns and truly my last reason was purely selfish - I did not want to get up to constantly refill them since at 2 and 4 they are not able to do that themselves.

Well at a recent trip to Toys R' Us, the boys saw their dream....


and after some debate the boys won. Now kept in mind, we are in no way being reimbursed by Fisher-Price for proclaiming our love of their product but I think the pictures below say it all....

Keep in mind that I lost count somewhere around 32, that is the number of times I would have gotten up to refill their guns. Instead I got to sit back, watch, take pictures, laugh and occasionally get wet. What a blast!!!!!

The Blue Garlic Saga Continues

Although I was very confident with Michie from Seeking Imperfection's husband's answer to my blue-ish green garlic situation but I decided to due a little research when everyone was sleeping last night and here is what I came up with....

From What's Cooking America -
Garlic is known to contain sulfur compounds which can react with minute traces of copper to form copper sulfate, a blue or blue-green compound. The amount of copper needed for this reaction is very small and is frequently found in normal water supplies. Raw garlic contains an enzyme that if not inactivated by heating reacts with sulfur (in the garlic) and copper (from water or utensils) to form blue copper sulfate. The garlic is still safe to eat.

If fresh garlic is picked before it is fully mature and hasn't been properly dried, it can turn and iridescent blue or green color when in the presence of an acid (the vinegar that was used in the recipe).

Are you using table salt instead of kosher or canning salt? That can cause the garlic to turn blue or green. Table salt contains iodine, which discolors whatever you're pickling. Use kosher or pickling salt. (I wasn't pickling anything but I did use table salt).

Don't worry, greenish-blue color changes aren't harmful and your garlic is still safe to eat. (unless you see other signs of spoilage).

P.S. The barbecued pulled pork recipe was delicious so I recommend trying it. My 4 year old ate a whole sandwich on a kaiser roll and you must note that he does not like "sandwiches". The next time I make it I will be using powdered garlic though!!

New Blog Header

I love my new blog header, do you? Thank you April for my adorable princess and her two little frogs!!!!

If you are interested in a new blog design or even a few little touches check out her site, April Showers Blog Design - she really does good work.

P.S. Grab my new button, it is on my sidebar now!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Finish It Up Friday - Week 4- Lemons

This week's ingredient is lemons....

I added a little of the lemon zest to my sugar cookie mix but now I am stuck with the actual lemon.

Anyone have any ideas such as a good lemon chicken, lemon bars or how to make lemonade the good way like at the carnivals using a simple syrup?
Just like always, you can post a recipe on your blog and just add the link to the comments section here. Feel free to take my little "Finish It Up Friday" picture to add to your post.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Question For A Cook - Blue Garlic?

I will admit that I am not the greatest cook, nor the most creative in the kitchen (unless it is baking) which is why I am desperately searching new recipes with my new "Finish It Up Friday" blog feature but today I seem to be having a real problem...

I am in the middle of making this wonderful recipe for Barbecued Pulled Pork that I found on the awesome blog - A Year of Slow Cooking. I just peeked through the lid of my Crock Pot and saw something blue...shocked and a little nervous I removed the lid.
After closer examination, I soon realized that it was the two cloves of minced garlic that I added at the last minute, which is the only thing that I did different from the original recipe.

I scooped them out as I was afraid of poisoning my family, but does anyone know why this happened??!?! It was fresh garlic that I bought this morning...

Monday, June 22, 2009

$5.00 CVS Challenge - My Week 11

The sales at CVS were not so great this week but I did not do so bad.

Trip 1:
It is hard to tell by the picture but the item in the middle is Almay Pure Blend translucent powder (with bonus eyeshadow) and the Johnson's products are trial size. The items would have cost $15.97 without sales, coupons and Extra Bucks but I paid $1.97 out of pocket plus I earned an additional $10.00 in Extra Bucks.

Trip 2:
I also purchased two packs of M&M's for the kids and a snickers bar for me but they did not make it into the picture. All of the items would have cost a total of $21.68 without sales, coupons and Extra Bucks but I paid a total of $.84 plus I earned an additional $6.00 in Extra Bucks.

Totals for the day:
Total Amount of Merchandise - $37.65
Total Out of Pocket - $2.81
Total Savings - $34.84
Extra Bucks Remaining - $6.00
Since next week's circular will be for into the first week of July, here are the totals of my June spending:
Total Amount of Merchandise - $219.58
Total Out of Pocket - $52.80
Total Savings - $166.78
Extra Bucks Remaining - $6.00

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fix It Up Friday - Week 3 - Velveeta Cheese

This week's ingredient is Velveeta Cheese!

This week I used a half a block of Velveeta to make my husband and I an amazing pot of Buffalo Chicken Soup - sorry no picture.

After some research, I just combined a bunch of recipes to come up with this:
  • 3 cups of shredded chicken
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups of 2% milk
  • 1 - 14 oz. chicken broth
  • 4 ozs. Velveeta
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Frank's Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

First, in a large soup pot, I sauteed the onions, carrots and celery in the butter, when the onions were softened I added the flour and made a roux. Then I slowly added the 2% milk, once that was incorporated I added the remaining ingredients and cooked until slightly thickened. It was quick, easy and delicious.

Now I am left with a half block of Velveeta - any ideas?!?!

Please join in and share a recipe with my. Post your recipe on your blog and leave a link in the comments sections below. Feel free to take my little "Fix It Up Friday" picture to include in your post.

Thanks for sharing and I look forward to tasting your recipes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

$5.00 CVS Challenge - My Week 10 - Part 2

I told you I would go back this week especially since I complained to CVS about stopping the Extra Bucks with Pampers purchase deal and they gave me an additional $5.00 Extra Bucks for my inconvenience.

The following items including a 20 ounce Diet Coke and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup would have cost $45.97 but after sales, coupons and Extra Bucks, I spent a total of $21.28 - a savings of $24.69 plus I earned an additional $13.00 in Extra Bucks!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Super Boy says "I Can't Eat"!!

Do you see it?

Look real close...right in the middle? A little blue spot!!

Here is the story...

my two year old frequently goes through phases with not eating dinner but since he loves his fruit and veggies and has a belly that would make Buddha proud, I am generally not concerned when he decides he does not want much to eat at dinner time.

Last night I asked him..."why aren't you eating"?

His reply - "there's play doh on the table"!!!!!!

Has my child not been eating on occasion because of a microscopic crumb or spec of crayon? Is there such a thing as toddler OCD? I actually checked and from what I found, Pediatric OCD usually presents itself around the ages of 7 - 10 so I guess we're safe but in the mean time I vow to always have a clean table (and add a maginfying glass to my kitchen gadget drawer)!!!

On a good note - I now know his eyesight is equal to an owl or Superman!!!

Wordless Wednesday

Want A Kiss?

The boys had a great time feeding giraffes carrots at a local fair.

For more great Wordless Wednesday posts please stop by Go Graham Go to see all the submissions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

He Won!!

A Trophy!!

On Saturday afternoon my big boy stood in front of approximately 75 people and recited an introduction and performed his white belt blocks and combinations for two judges who he never met before.

I was so proud of him and when I told him on the way to the ice cream parlor he told me "I know, I'm proud of me too"!!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

$5.00 CVS Challenge - My Week 10

The sales were not so great at CVS this morning but I did make 2 trips and I may go back for some more cards, etc since I already have 5 towards the buy 8 Hallmark cards get one free. Here is the breakdown of today's trips:

Trip 1:
The items in this trip would have been $16.97 (one of the cards was $7.99 as it is the recordable kind) without sales, coupons and Extra Bucks but I paid a total of $2.97 out of pocket and earned an additional $2.00 in Extra Bucks. A savings of $14.00.

Trip 2:
The following items would have been $14.47 without sales, coupons and Extra Bucks but I paid $3.75 out of pocket plus I earned $1.00 in Extra Bucks. A savings of $10.72.

Total for the day:
Total Amount of Merchandise Purchased - $31.44
Total Out of Pocket - $6.72
Total Savings - $24.72
Extra Bucks Remaining - $1.00

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Berry Good Lunch/Breakfast Muffins

"Lunch Muffins" are still something that we love at our house, although I have not posted any new ones in a long time. If you are interested in my original Lunch Muffin post you can read it here or simply click Lunch Muffins on the right hand side of my posts.

I came across a simple breakfast/lunch/snack muffin idea that I decided to try today:

Here is what you need:

can of biscuits (I used Grands)
3/4 cup raspberry or strawberry preserves, jam or spread
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Since I used the Grands which are much larger biscuits then the ones in the 12 ounce can, I broke each one in half.

Preheat oven to 350.

Press the biscuits into each hole of your muffin tin that has been sprayed with Pam or equivalent.

Mix the preserves and spices together an put about 1 teaspoon of the filling in each cup.

I used a big heaping teaspoon in each which resulted in a nice mess and bubble over.

Bake approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pan as the preserves turn to liquid when it is hot and will just pour out when you try to take them out.

Verdict: Just enough spice and the kids loved them, which is my whole idea.

I think the next time I make them I will add a little softened cream cheese in the mix to make them like little danishes. Sounds good to me.

Finish It Up Friday - Week 2 - Chipotle Peppers

This week's ingredient is "CANNED CHIPOTLE PEPPERS in ADOBO SAUCE".

I will be making my Albondiga Soup recipe for the family this weekend and was wondering if anyone has a recipe that would use up my chipotle peppers in adobo? I make this soup often and the small can of peppers usually cost me about $3.00 of which I only use 2 and a teaspoon or so of the sauce and throw the remainder out. I recently saw on a show that you can freeze the remainder in a baggie or container but does anyone have any yummy recipes to share?

Here is my Albondiga Soup recipe:

Soup Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
6 cups unsalted beef broth/stock
2 cups chopped and seeded ripe tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes
1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons Adobo sauce from canned chilies
1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 grated zucchini
1/4 cup uncooked rice

Meatball Ingredients:
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup shredded zucchini
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons uncooked white rice
1 tablespoon minced cilantro (I usually leave this out)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano

In a heavy stock pot, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic with the cumin and oregano until the vegetables are softened. Pour in the stock and add the tomatoes, chipotle, potatoes, carrots and salt. Simmer the soup for 20 minutes while you form the meatballs.

In a bowl combine all the meatball ingredients and mix well. Form the mixture into small balls about 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter. In a large saucepan, bring enough water to cover the meatballs and boil the meatballs for about 5 minuted to eliminate some of the grease. Drain the meatballs, discarding the cooking water. Add the meatballs along with the reserved zucchini and rice to the soup. Continue to simmer the soup for at least 30 minutes.

I know it seems like a lot of ingredients and lots of steps but it is really not once you get going and a lot of the ingredients are duplicated between the soup and meatballs. Worth the effort!!!

If you have a recipe to share, please put a post on your blog linking back to here in the comments section. Feel free to use my little picture on your post.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Color Mixing Fun

The boys and I read a cute book today about color mixing. The boys seemed so excited and curious to see what color the rabbit would turn into that I figured it was the perfect time for a little color mixing project.

Now, I have seen this several times and several different ways but I chose corn starch and water and of course food coloring. What ever method you choose make sure you tape the top of the bags closed to prevent an accident. I just used clear packing tape.

I used about 1 cup of the corn starch and approximately 1/4 - 1/3 cup of water.

I probably could have added a little more water to the little guys since he had some trouble mixing it together as you can see by the look on his face in the next picture...

But it did not stop him from having fun!!

This would also be another great book to go along with this project.

Wordless Wednesday - A Bed and A Slide!

For some more great Wordless Wednesday posts, go check out Go Graham Go!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

$5.00 CVS Challenge - My Week 9

All I have to say is WOW!!!!! I feel like Robin Hood or Jesse James. Alright, maybe not Jesse James because he had a gun - but maybe I can get the boy's some bandannas for our CVS shopping trips.

This was a big week for us, I had to make three trips today but it was not that big of a deal since we have 3 within a 10 minute drive of each other, so here is the breakdown:

Trip 1:

The items below would have cost a total of $26.35 without sales, coupons and remaining Extra Bucks but I paid $3.99 out of pocket which was a savings of $22.36 plus I earned an additional $3.00 in Extra Bucks!

Trip 2:

The following items (plus a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup which must still be in the car) would have cost a total of $23.25 before any sales, coupons and remaining Extra Bucks but I paid a total of $2.98 out of pocket a savings of $20.27 plus I earned $5.00 in Extra Bucks (so I actually made $2.02 on this purchase)!

Trip 3:
The following items would have cost a total of $25.07 without any sales, coupons or previously earned Extra Bucks but I paid a total of $9.49 out of pocket which is a savings of $15.58 plus I earned an additional $10.00 in Extra Bucks (so I made another .51 on this trip)!!!!!

Grand Totals for the day -
Total Amount of Merchandise prior to sales, coupons and EB's : $74.67
Total Spent Out Of Pocket: $16.46
Extra Bucks Remaining: $10.00

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Our Karate Kid

This is our new "Karate Kid" and the reason I am writing this post is that I just realized my decision to enroll my son in karate was right!!!

Here was the situation - my son was invited by a preschool classmate to a birthday party at a local karate school a couple of months ago. I have to admit that I was panic stricken and had many reasons why he should not be able to attend, the biggest one being that my son can get very aggressive especially if he is having fun. He has some sensory issues that make him crave physical input so I had visions of him running around the party, karate chopping everyone including the parents just like the bad guy in a Bruce Lee movie.

Despite my fears, he went to the party and I spent the whole time with my mouth open in total shock. Upon entering the school he was met by the "Sensei" who introduced himself (they had the same name) and then told him to put his shoes in the cubby and go in and sit against the wall and wait for his friends ---- he did it!!!! He listened, sat and PAID ATTENTION!!!!!

I confessed to the mother of the birthday girl my fears and she said - oh you shouldn't have, both Sensei's are teacher and one being a special education teacher, well, needless to say we signed him up three days later.

Deep down in the back of my mind I thought that his school teachers and therapists would think that I was crazy since he is so hyper-active - why would I put him into an aggressive sport...

But here were the advantages that I came up with:

1. Improved Social Skills
2. Better coordination
3. Discipline
4. Something to look forward to twice a week
5. Self control
6. Self confidence
7. Better focus and attention
8. To learn to "slow himself down"
9. Better awareness of his body and how to regulate it
10. Ability to follow sequences

My first form of justification is that he pays attention there for 45 minutes and about 5 in school!

The second was this article that I found while surfing the net:
Many parents discover the potential of therapy using martial arts by accident - for example, taking their child to a sibling's class or seeing a free demonstration at a mall. The methods of teaching in many martial arts like karate include very set and clear moves, learned by imitation, and a clear hierarchy and unambiguous mode of behavior in the class. Experts such as Dr. Anne Milanese of the Connecticut Children's Medical Center cautions that even these apparent advantages don't work for everyone with autism. "...we need to make sure the activity is desirable and fun for the child," she told a Connecticut news station in an interview. She noted that some children will not thrive in "imitative" environments, and will resort to behaviors designed to avoid the activity if they are forced or even encouraged into something they don't like.

And last but not least the organization Autism Speaks, lists martial arts as a form of alternative therapy!!!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I NEED RECIPES!!! Finish It Up Friday - Week 1

I would like to welcome you to my new idea;

You see one of my biggest pet peeves is to buy an ingredient for a recipe - to only use a small portion of it, leaving the rest to become a science experiment in the back of my refrigerator. Anyone who knows me or reads my blog, knows that I love coupons and saving money and wasting food is such a big waste of money in my house.

The main reason for this new blog feature is that I would love to be a good meal/menu planner but I think one of my problems is that I do not have enough "good" recipes in my rotation so this is where you come in...

I cordially invite anyone interested to participate in "Finish It Up Friday". Each week I will list an ingredient and share a recipe or two to go with it, you then would write a post on your blog and link back to mine in the comments section. (feel free to grab my little picture - if I get enough people I will put up a Mr. Linky, button, etc. - but right now that is just wishful thinking).

Maybe with a little help from friends we will all learn some new recipes and become better meal planners saving some money along the way.
Week 1:

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

I have loads of this stuff on hand right now as I was getting them for a $1.50 a bag on sale with coupons but a lot of recipes I have only call for a 1/2 a bag.

Here is the casserole that I made for my kids today:

Tater-Topped Casserole -
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 bag tater tots
Preheat oven to 375.
Brown meat with the onions in skillet, drain. Spoon into a 8 inch square baking dish.
Mix soup and milk; pour over meat mixture. Top with layers of mixed veggies, cheese then tater tots.

Bake approximately 45 minutes until the taters are brown and the casserole is heated through.
Now it is you turn.....
What recipes do you have for my 1/2 bag of shredded cheddar cheese?

Learning - Dollar Store Style

We purchased the above items (there were a few more cups and clips but they did not make it into the picture) recently at our local "dollar" store for about $7.00 and turned them into the following learning activities.

First we had a color sorting tray...after printing some color squares off of the computer.

After the little guy was done, big brother had a chance but he got to use the tweezers that came in the bug collecting kits. I also flipped over the colored squares and gave him a shot at recognizing the numbers that I wrote on them.
Then we used the plastic cups and magnet clips for some more color sorting and fine-motor, hand strengthening exercises.

The good thing is that all of the items can be used again for more learning games or their original purposes.