Thursday, July 30, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Just a quick reminder that our discount code from A Toy Garden expires on July 31. The code is littleword5off for $5 off a first time order of $20 or more. Here is a link to a review I did back in April. A Toy Garden is such a fun site to browse, have fun shopping!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Lucy turned 4 on June 23 and Julia will turn 2 on August 2nd. We recently had a family get together combined birthday party for the two of them. One of the favorite birthday gifts was a bird book from Grandpa! He took pictures of all of the different birds that come to their bird feeder and birds that he saw up at their cottage and put them all in a photo album labeled with their names. He has pictures labeled as male and female with one photo of each type. I thought this was such a wonderful gift and one that should be posted to my blog! ;) Lucy has enjoyed looking through it and can name most of the birds. We'll have fun taking more bird pictures and adding to the book.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I cleared out a cupboard in the hallway, moving some things to the basement and trying to creatively find new places for what was previously stored here. Lucy is excited that she can reach the drawing paper on her own now and I love having all of our school supplies stored in one place and ready to go for the fall.
Second shelf - (from left to right again) I have a box labeled "My Father's World" that holds plastic bags of the ABC game, short vowel song, ABC chart, and bingo cards, alphabet flashcards, the number cup, and anything else we use daily. The box underneath is labeled "school supplies" and has pieces to our big calendar, HWOT music cd, HWOT chalk boards, MFW music cd, fundanas for our nature studies, and more. The Cuisinaire rods are stacked on top of these two boxes. Beside that is a roll of fingerpaint paper and a paint shirt. The three drawer set holds handwriting paper and the HWOT wooden pieces, a small pad of colored paper, and white paper. I was disappointed that my large pad of colored paper didn't fit in the drawers, so it is stacked on top of the drawers along with some watercolor paper and more drawing paper. These were all to wide to fit in the drawers. Beside the drawers I have my teacher's manuals, HWOT workbook, Cuisinaire rods workbook, and a dry erase board.
Bottom shelf - way at the back I have a large pad of fingerpaint paper that didn't fit anywhere else. The ant hill is stored here as well. I'm going to get a big binder with page protectors to hold all of Lucy's worksheets and projects throughout the year. (Art projects that are too big for the binder will go in a big plastic bin in the basement. Each girl has their own bin.) That binder will sit on this bottom shelf. Lastly, I have my file box with the alphabet puzzle on top of it.
My Father's World K goes through a series of themes: sun, moon, etc. I have a file for each week containing any ideas I come across, the student worksheets, and other things related to the theme (songs, fingerplays, etc). The calendar, hundred chart, and blend ladder are in the first weeks folder right now and will travel to whichever week we're working on at the time. After weeks 1-26 I have a file labeled "Music and Fingerplays" including the MFW music idea sheet and some fingerplay and song ideas. The "Nature Studies" file has some ideas copied from the back of the book "Pocketful of Pinecones" and other nature studies ideas I may come across. I have a file "Holidays and Seasonal Ideas" with holiday ideas that I want to use (a snowman poem, turkey coloring page, Christmas ideas, etc). "General Information" has a MFW catalog, speaking cds of David Hazell, a few parts of my student worksheets that I didn't need yet, etc. "Preschool MFW" contains the idea booklet and papers from the preschool kit and some other things I printed out that we used last year. My last file is labeled "HWOT" and includes the laminated cards that go with the wooden letter pieces.
I hope some of that is helpful to you! It actually took me quite a while to figure out how to best organize this and some of it may even change as we go. I always enjoy seeing how other people have organized various things and it sparks ideas of my own. Be happy I'm only showing you the one cupboard, you definitely wouldn't want to see the rest of my house in all its chaos. Maybe as the nesting instinct hits I'll become a bit more organized. Thanks for stopping by!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
This recipe came from a dear friend and is such a fun summer tradition. Our farmer's market sells little cucumbers just for making pickles with. When I saw them for sale this morning I knew it was time to mix up a batch. Both of my girls love pickles and Julia will even ask for them for breakfast. (No, I don't let her eat them for breakfast!) I've made a few slight changes to the recipe so I'll post my version here.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
With my forray into the blogging world and reading blogs, I’ve come across rave reviews for the Bosch Mixer. It seems that all moms who feed their families healthy food and bake their own bread use the Bosch Mixer! Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I’d never heard of it before reading blogs about healthy cooking and then kept reading about it. I’ve been interested in a KitchenAid mixer for quite some time, so I set out to compare the two and decided whether or not to add the Bosch Mixer to my wish list.
After reading reviews on amazon and elsewhere, I realized that although many people love their KitchenAid mixers, there were a few commonly reported problems. KitchenAid mixers are often reported to leak oil; I even posted a poll on a private message board that I belong to and several moms there agreed that their KitchenAid leaked oil! I found many reviews here reporting problems with KitchenAid mixers. Along with leaking oil, some mixers just flat out stopped working, often times when people were trying to mix larger loaves of bread in them.
I couldn’t find nearly as many reviews of the Bosch Mixer, but the reviews I read all included the words “I love my Bosch Mixer.” After looking at this comparison chart, I was pretty convinced. Bosch has an 800 watt motor vs KitchenAid’s 575 watts. It has a three year motor warranty and 1 year on parts, vs KitchenAids 1 year warranty. The Bosch actually weighs less and is smaller (a big plus for my tiny kitchen), but is better at mixing bread dough in large batches. I was about to cross the KitchenAid off of my wish list and write in “Bosch Mixer.” ...but wait! What was it made of? The blender looked suspiciously like polycarbonate plastic (which would contain the toxin BPA). I had more research to do.
Whenever I typed “Bosch Mixer” in Google’s search engine, Pleasant Hill Grain always came up advertising themselves as “The Bosch Mixer Store: low prices, free shipping, and 25 years Bosch experience.” Alright, these people know their Bosch Mixers, I’ll ask them my questions. Pleasant Hill Grain’s website stated that the Bosch Mixer bowl was made of “super-tough Makrilon” and the blender attachment was made of “Lexan polycarbonate”. Lexan is a brand name polycarbonate, and definitely contains BPA. The bowl I wasn’t quite clear on. I Googled “Makrilon” and it came up as Makrolon, also a brand name polycarbonate, again, containing BPA. I couldn’t find information on any other websites selling Bosch Mixers that said what the mixer bowl and blender pitcher were made of.
I emailed Pleasant Hill Grain asking them what type of plastic the mixing bowl was made of. The first reply I received simply stated:
“Christy, I know the bowl is made of Makrilon plastic. Thank you, Dee”.
I replied thanking them for the email, but again asking for information about whether or not the Bosch mixer and blender contain BPA. I received this reply:
“...Bosch is made in Slovenia and according to what we know, it is against German manufacturing law to make anything with BPA. I feel pretty safe saying that the Bosch mixer and blender does not have BPA.... Tom”
I wasn’t thrilled with this reply; “prettty safe” didn’t sound very factual to me. After some searching, I discovered that KitchenResource.com was the Bosch distributor for the US. I contacted them with my questions. I simply wanted to know what type of plastic the mixing bowl and blender pitcher are made of and if they contain BPA.
My first response from Kitchen Resource stated that the blender is made of polycarbonate and that it was the only part of the Bosch Universal Mixer that was made of polycarbonate. They also included some information saying that the major concerns with polycarbonate are heating it, or bottles which contain liquids for longer amounts of time which may allow time for leaching.
I replied to Kitchen Resource, letting them know that Pleasant Hill Grain had assured me there was no BPA in the mixer or blender, and that they may want to clarify this information with them, as it was false. Their website stated that the bowl was Makrilon, which would contain BPA, so I asked for clarity on what type of plastic the bowl was made of.
My contact at Kitchen Resource replied stating that the mixer bowl was polypropylene and that he had asked for confirmation from the factory and would let me know for sure.
After three weeks I heard back:
“...The Bosch mixing bowl is PP (polypropylene). The Bosch blender jar is polycarbonate. At one time, Bosch used a polycarbonate from Bayer, trade named Makrolon, as the material to make their blender jars. I do not know what their source is for that plastic at this time. I have been assured (undocumented) that, because Germany is verrrry environmentally conscious, Bosch does not uses materials that can leach BP-A. There is some indication that some polycarbonate plastics are better than others. Those from China might be more suspect than those from Europe, for example. However, I do not have enough data to reach a firm conclusion about that.”
So far Pleasant Hill Grain, the 25 year Bosch authority, was wrong on two accounts 1) the Bosch Blender DOES contain BPA and 2) the mixer bowl is not made of Makrilon, nor was it ever.
I contacted the folks at ZRecs.com because they’ve done this type of consumer research with companies and plastics information. I forwarded them a few emails and their reply confirmed my thoughts:
“There are many things made of polycarbonate whose manufacturers will say "does not leach" BPA. Polycarbonate is, by its nature, composed of chains of BPA. There are many different ways to test whether or not a given plastic will leach BPA, and the results are influenced by many variables that are not regulated or independently monitored - test sensitivity, what the plastic is subjected to, and so on. We prefer (and recommend) products that do not contain BPA, as these are not subject to the (often secret) testing methodologies of companies.”
In the meantime Pleasant Hill Grain changed the information on their website after I had let them know I was in contact with their distributor and finding conflicting information. They did not reply to me or correct the erroneous emails they previously sent. I happened to find out that they had changed the information upon visiting their website again.
Whew, so what is the point of this long story? I am not interested in mud slinging, just in consumer advocacy. I’m concerned that it took me over a months worth of time, numerous email conversations, and being given false information several times just to find out the truth. Pleasant Hill Grain didn’t know the answer to my question, nor did they respond when it was revealed to them. I did finally figure out that the Bosch mixer is made of safe plastic, the blender is not. I absolutely will not purchase or use the blender until Bosch changes their plastic formulation to get rid of the BPA. Will I purchase or use the Bosch Mixer without the blender? I don’t know. I do find it unsettleing that companies aren’t sure what is in their products, especially when it comes to toxic chemicals. Does anyone else see a problem with this?
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I recently came across Muffin Tin Mondays at Her Cup Overfloweth. These aren't muffin tins, and its not Monday, but I was so inspired I just had to give it a try. Lucy and Julia loved their special 4th of July lunch - they are exhausted from staying up late to see fireworks last night, so they don't look too thrilled, but they really were. The basic idea is to serve lunch in a muffin tin in a creative way. There are different themes for each week, this week's theme was 4th of July so we served strawberries, blueberries, yogurt, and star bread with cream cheese and strawberry jelly on top. Other themes include shapes, numbers, and all sorts of fun things. Using a muffin tin allows you to give your child small amounts and even include something that he or she may not normally eat. Chances are, it might get eaten up just because its Muffin Tin Monday. I plan to get a couple small muffin tins next time I'm out and we'll give this a try every now and then. Go check it out, these ladies get very creative with their ideas. While you're there, check out this giveaway for some muffin cups! If you give Muffin Tin Monday a try be sure and let me know how it goes.