Thursday, July 30, 2009

Snack Ideas

I typed up this list of healthy snack ideas to have on hand because my girls are always hungry and asking for a snack. From time to time I run out of ideas or feel like I don't know what to give them. I am okay with letting them snack, but I'm pretty particular about wanting it to be something healthy. My mom was also asking for snack ideas for my two nephews that she watches, so I was inspired to actually sit down and do this. Here's our list. Of course I've only included things that my girls like, feel free to give me more ideas in the comments, we may try something you suggest! (Most of these would also make good ingredients for Muffin Tin Mondays.)

apple - dip in peanut butter or yogurt for something different
(any other fresh fruit we may have on hand)
frozen fruit
dried fruit (raisins, papaya, craisins)
smoothie (see my post here)

lightly steamed veggies and ranch dip
avocado cut into chunks with garlic salt
tomato with seasoning salt or ranch

chips and salsa
chips and guacamole (avocado, salsa, splash of lemon juice, and garlic salt)
chips with shredded cheese melted on them
chips and hummus
tortilla with cheese and/or refried beans

yogurt (can include fruit or granola sprinkles)
cheese cubes, slices, or string cheese (cut cheese with cookie cutters, or let the kids cut their own shapes)
cottage cheese with fruit
deviled eggs

crackers (with cheese, turkey, or peanut butter)
graham crackers
ducks (Meijer organic version of goldfish)
toast with cinnamon sugar, peanut butter, or jelly
homemade bread with butter
zucchini or banana bread
homemade granola bars (see my recipe here)

homemade popsicles (juice or yogurt)

Ok, lets hear your ideas. Help me add to this list!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Avoiding BPA - Beans

Bisphenol-A is a nasty chemical that's been in the news lately for its bad reputation and being found in baby bottles and various plastics. BPA is also found in the lining of canned goods. Although I'm glad that there is some public outrage and change occurring where baby bottles are concerned, I'm surprised that there hasn't been more of a fuss about canned goods containing BPA. I generally avoid purchasing canned foods and have come up with some easy and healthy replacements. Beans are actually fairly easy to rehydrate and freeze for later use.

I purchase a big bag of dried beans and soak them all at once, freezing them in can sized portions. My crock-pot makes this super easy to do. First, place beans in the crock-pot and cover them with plenty of water. Leave them (no heat) to soak overnight. In the morning, pour out the water, rinse, and cover with more water. Turn the crock-pot to low (or high) and cook all day until the beans are the right texture.

There isn't really a science to this, I tend to leave them too long and overcook them, but they still work just fine in my recipes. Today I had a large bag of beans and put them on low for most of the day. I checked them and they were still hard so I turned it up to high for about an hour, forgot about them and was leaving to run errands so I put them back on low. I turned the crock-pot off at dinner time and then let them cool while I got the girls in bed and came back to deal with the beans. They just need to cook a good long time until they are soft and ready to use in recipes.

I use my canning funnel to help me scoop the beans into jars. I fill each jar almost to the top with beans and add a bit of the cooking liquid. If I had enough jars I would just use the canning jars and white plastic Ball freezer lids, but I have to use some ziploc freezer bags too. To fill the freezer bags I first fill a glass jar and then dump it into the bag. I'm picky about letting the beans cool completely before I do this because I do not want to heat the plastic bag at all. I put the glass jars in the refrigerator to be sure they are completely chilled before freezing. Label your bags and jars, stick them in the freezer, and there you have it, "canned" black beans all ready to use. To use the beans in a recipe simply thaw them out in the refrigerator overnight and use them like you would a normal can of black beans (rinsing the water out before use).

We try to include beans in our diet as a healthy source of protein, fiber, and vitamins. Black Beans and Rice is one of our favorite easy meals (from Simply In Season). We use black beans in tacos, bean and corn salsa, added to spaghetti, chicken tortilla soup, homemade refried beans, and more. I got 9 "cans" of beans from my bag of dried black beans today. Its much cheaper this way, as well as being healthier for you. I've done this with Kidney beans as well and it worked just fine.

As far as avoiding other canned goods - we buy fresh or frozen vegetables, make our own soups, buy spaghetti sauce in glass jars, and I freeze fresh chopped tomatoes (in place of cans of diced tomatoes). I'm still working on cream of soup recipes that I like, but we try not to use recipes with cream of soups in them too often anyway. I just checked my pantry and I only have a couple canned items in there, we've been pretty successful at avoiding BPA in canned foods. Have you found any other tricks to avoiding canned goods that you'd like to share? (and why am I blogging about this instead of cleaning up the mess I made in the kitchen?)

For more Kitchen Tips check here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stamps Review

Before I had children of my own, I worked in a daycare for a year. I've tried to remeber some of the fun craft ideas that I did with my "kids" and some of the art supplies we had in my room and have them on hand for my own girls to use. One thing we had at the daycare were some wonderful large stamps and stamp pads for the kids to use. Although I had searched teacher stores and catalogs, I hadn't been able to find them until recently. We tried playing with some small rubber stamps for scrapbooking, but they just didn't work quite as well.

I finally came across Center Enterprises' Ready2Learn stamp sets and ink pads. They agreed to send me the Giant Imaginative Play Sets 1 and 2 along with the Jumbo Circular Washable Pads for review. The girls were both very excited to use these and after the package arrived, they asked daily if they could use the stamps yet. (We had a few busy days so it took a while before we had a free afternoon to play with stamps.)

I was very happy with the large size of the stamps - perfect for little hands to hang on to. Both Lucy (4) and Julia (almost 2) were able to use the stamps easily. The handles are rounded and fit into their hands nicely. The sets that we received have a nice variety of images that we will be able to use for any number of projects. The ink pads worked well and inked the stamps nicely. Both girls were able to produce clear images with their stamps. The girls didn't care for the green color as it was more of a dark forest green color, but otherwise very much enjoyed stamping.

We used a big sheet of paper for our stamping project - the stamps are fairly large, so I thought that they would fill up a regular sheet of paper too quickly. The large paper worked well and I saved it to use as wrapping paper! The Imaginative Play Sets that we received have a nice variety of images that we can use to create scenes. Lucy really liked the castle stamp; Julia enjoyed them all. These particular sets include stamps that relate to at least eight of our MFW Kindergarten themes - (moon - star, leaf and tree, apple, turtle, us - handprints on the big ink pads, insect - ladybug, butterfly, and frog). I'm considering adding the Giant Farm Animals sets to our collection as that would cover several of the animals we study this year as well.

The large ink pads were a great size and fit the stamps well. I only put out one color at a time since Julia hasn't learned to keep stamps to one ink pad yet. When we were finished, the stamps easily washed off in the sink. I also wiped them with a baby wipe to be sure they were clean. Although the stamps come in a reusable plastic case, I found it easier to store them all in a big plastic tub along with the ink pads. I'll definitely be keeping these handy and using them often. Both girls enjoyed the stamping and it made a fun art project.

I really liked the full color catalog that Center Enterprises set me along with our stamps. I enjoyed looking through it and found many unique items that would work wonderfully in our homeschool. There are stamps that go along with the Cuisinaire rods that we'll be using this year and would be great for creating any number of activities. Blank clock faces for learning to tell time, bead pattern stamps, money stamps (stamp and laminate to make your own play money!), and of course all of the shape stamps... my teacher's brain is going crazy with all of the fun learning ideas these stamps present. Go take a peek and see what you find.

Center Enterprises has been around for 35+ years and their thousands of products have been used by parents, teachers, and youngsters around the globe. The wide range of curriculum, theme based and artistic stamping and craft items is their field and it encompasses education, craft, hobby, toy, scrap-booking, early childhood, and homeschooling niches. There is definitely something here for everyone. Center Enterprises has always had very positive feedback and they are recognized for quality, creativity, and customer service as a leader in many ways.

Center Enterprises is offering my blog readers a special code "CVW09" good for a Free Surprise packaged with any retail order that they ship directly. The order can be from their website by email, fax, letter (USPS), or telephone, and must include the code for identification purposes. The code is good until 12/09.

Thank you Center Enterprises! We enjoyed the stamps and will be purchasing more of your unique stamps in the future.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Discount Code

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

Chalk Fun

We are enjoying some time at the cottage with Grandpa and Grandma this week. While Julia and I were napping recently, Aunt Laura drew a chalk road with Lucy. They went the whole length of the sidewalk and included houses, trees, a park and more. I thought this was such a fun idea that kept Lucy entertained for quite some time. The road was big enough for one of her trucks to drive through and she had fun telling me where our house was and Grandpa and Grandma's house, etc.

Today I made chalk paint for the girls to play with. We took a piece of sidewalk chalk and smashed it up and mixed it with a small amount of water. Julia really liked hammering the chalk in the ziploc bag. They both decided that it was even more fun to paint the cottage and were proud to show Grandma the new paint job.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Garden Update

My little garden is a bit weedy, but doing well! I have onions, carrots (that need to be thinned out), cilantro, basil, peppermint, oregano, tomatoes (heirloom, patio, cherry, and more), and peppers (jalapeno and bell).

So fun to watch it grow from this.

See the little peppers growing? They are right in the middle of the photo. I know, you can't really see them, but I'm so proud of them I just had to include them.

Strawberry plants that we just put in this year - no berries till next year though.

A giant sunflower that the squirrels planted for us, a huge mum that comes back each year, and lots of weeds growing around it. The tall stuff behind the daisies includes a lilac bush and a butterfly bush. We have a bird feeder tucked in there that is pretty close to the window and the girls enjoy watching the birds and squirrels that come to it. The butterfly bush attracts lots of butterflies and one hummingbird who comes each year when it blooms a bit later on.

My beautiful lavender - I just harvested some yesterday and am drying it in the basement. I love having this right by the front door, it smells great and blooms wonderfully.

There are six tiny lavenders along the sidewalk. We just put them in this year but they aren't growing much. My tomatoes in pots got overwatered during a big storm we had so they aren't too happy, but they have a few little tomatoes growing anyway. There is a zucchini plant between the first two tomato pots, something keeps eating the zucchini before I can pick it though. The other zucchini plant on the right didn't make it. The other big tall thing? I don't know.

That's my weedy, fun yard!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Green Mountain Wee Woolies - Product Review and Giveaway

My girls are both at a stage where they enjoy dressing up. We have playsilks, necklaces, purses, play cell phones, and a few other props they enjoy using. Recently I went searching for a wool felt crown to add to their dress up play. I searched and searched... found a few options for making one, but nothing I was in love with.... until I found Green Mountain Wee Woolies! Valerie has the most wonderful assortment of natural wool and wooden toys and her crowns are absolutely the best I found! She agreed to send us one for review and is giving away an adorable little gnome to one of my readers.

The crown is just as wonderful in person as it looks in her shop! Its soft and just a bit stretchy, so it easily fits both girls. Valerie does wonderful work, the little rosebuds are adorable and such a nice touch. This definitely looks like a true princess' crown. I love that its made with wool (natural fibers) - the other items in her shop are made from natural materials as well. She even makes a blue crown with leaves on it that would be great for a boy to wear as a prince.

We'll definitely be visiting Green Mountain Wee Woolies in the future for Christmas and birthday gifts. There are quite a few things on my wish list here...

a gnome house that opens up and includes little gnomes,

a felted play mat with a pond, path, and garden,

an absolutely gorgeous doll to use when story telling,

and this is just the coolest toy! A wool felt car and road that travels nicely in the included pouch. I think this is such a creative and fun toy. Instead of filling up my blog with photos, go check out her store here for wool play food, soft felt play balls, wool soakers, a little doll family in a purse and more.

Valerie had this to say - "Thank you for your interest in Green Mountain Wee Woolies. My name is Valerie and I love working with natural fibers. I have been handcrafting since I was a small child. I have a passion for knitting and love making wool soaker diaper covers. I also enjoy spinning and felting. " Green Mountain Wee Woolies is a family business on a small family farm in Vermont.

I have an adorable little blue 8" tall gnome, knit from a soft cashmere wool blend yarn, stuffed with wool roving to giveaway! If you'd like to enter the giveaway please leave a comment on this post including your email address OR have your email contact enabled in your blogger profile. If you happen to purchase something from Valerie's shop, let me know that in another comment and you'll be given another entry for doing so. I'll leave the giveaway open until July 31st at midnight. Thanks for stopping by!

**Giveaway is now closed. chose comment #17. Thanks for your interest.**

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fun Birthday Gift

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

My Father's World Kindergarten - Organization

I saw a great blog post recently about how someone organized their Kindergarten homeschool supplies and it was a huge help to me. I've finally finished organizing our school cupboard and thought I'd share the results.

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.

On the top shelf I have plastic shoe boxes labeled (from left to right) - "play-doh", "play-doh toys", "pens pencils colored pencils", "stickers", "crayons markers", and "scissors glue paint". Each bin is labeled on both ends so that it can be put back with either end facing front. We have a good assortment in these bins including window markers, fat markers, skinny markers, crayon rocks, finger paint, watercolor paints and more! I love having a huge array of art supplies available for the girls to use and they always have fun when I pull out something they haven't used in awhile. Other art supplies like pom pons, brads, cardboard tubes, baby food jars - things like this for special projects are stored in a cupboard in the basement. On top of the play-doh bins are some extra plastic containers of homemade play doh. (For more play-doh ideas see my post here.) The small plastic boxes in front of the bins have crayons in them.

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

Sun Pickles

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.

Use a glass one gallon sun tea jar. (Make sure the spout at the bottom is on tight enough. The first time I made sun pickles they started leaking all over the place and I had to dump them out, tighten the spout, and then pour them all back in again.) Layer pickles, sprigs of fresh dill, and cloves of garlic in the jar. I used 3-4 sprigs of dill and 5-6 cloves of garlic. I also put in some beans this time to make dilly beans, and because I didn't buy quite enough pickles to fill the jar.

Mix together the following:
6 cups water
3 cups vinegar (actually I ran out and only used 2 1/2 cups but its working fine)
1/2 cup pickling salt (not regular salt)
1 tsp alum (found in the baking dept, keeps the pickles crunchy)

I mixed this all up in a juice pitcher and then poured it over the pickles in the glass jar. Set in the sun for 4 days - if you don't have sun it should work just as well inside. These are wonderfully crunchy and fresh tasting. When they are ready, you can put them in smaller containers and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks. Enjoy!

(I looked at a jar of pickles from the refrigerator today and read the ingredients - several preservatives and food coloring. Seriously? In a pickle? I guess I should have known. All the more reason to keep batches of pickles going all summer. I need to find out if its possible to can these.)

*Update- We are loving the dilly beans! They only took 2 days to be ready - we tested them this afternoon while playing outside and both girls kept coming back for more. I had to stuff in all the rest of the green beans I had in the house and then explain to the girls why it was going to be a day before they could have more dilly beans. (see Tammy's Recipes for more green bean recipes)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Bosch Mixer: A Story

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 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 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

Muffin Tin Mondays

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.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Soup Tricks

Today was a cold and rainy day. It is actually a nice break from the hot and sticky weather we've had lately, but still a bit odd to be wearing a jacket in the middle of summer. The girls and I came home from a playdate this morning and needed a quick lunch. I made a package of soup and we had some cheese chips to go with it (put tortilla chips on a plate, shred cheddar cheese on top and microwave 25 seconds). Both girls love soup, especially my homemade chicken stock soup (which is not what we had today, lol). To help contain the mess, I put a washcloth underneath their bowl. I remember my mom doing this with my brother and I when we were little. She would also put an ice cube in our soup to help it cool down. Another tip is that I let them use a straw to drink the broth. Once the broth is gone, its easier for them to scoop the noodles with a spoon. We still had a mess afterwards, but not too bad.

(This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.)