April 15, 2015
by jenny
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Add A Pinch: Yellow Cake Recipe (IS GOOD!)

I’m not a cake fan, but if I had to pick, yellow cake would be my favorite. I’m baking and freezing cakes this week for a cake walk we’re having for my daughter’s birthday next week. The kids will be decorating the cakes themselves and I’m guessing the toppings are going to take over much of the flavor, so I’ve been using the mass production time to test out different recipes. I came across Add A Pinch’s The Best Classic Yellow Cake Recipe. And it takes the cake! (Hardy har har!) No really, it’s wonderful!

Look how pretty!

 

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If only to save the link so I can find it again easily myself, I wanted to share the recipe. I had doubled the recipe and it just baaaarely fit in my 6qt KitchenAid mixer. I had the butter sitting out for a couple days and whipped it up so well it almost filled my bowl, and the eggs room temperature. I convection baked these five all at once at 330 degrees, it took a while.

Even makes this not cake lover drool a little!
http://addapinch.com/cooking/the-best-classic-yellow-cake-recipe/

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April 13, 2015
by jenny
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Stop Motion Animation Frame

Inspired by Gumby, I used to love making claymation movies as a kid. It required many steps with multiple VCRs. Nowadays, kids have it easy: “there’s an app for that.”

My kids (and their friends) enjoy making movies with our iPad, especially the quick to put together movie trailers through iMovie. Trying to re-live my claymation enthusiasm days through my kids, we’ve tried a few movie maker apps, but they hadn’t entirely stuck or had them excited.

Until…. My middle daughter recently enjoyed making stop motion animation movies at an event workshop set up by Steve and Kate’s Camps. They had custom built stations to keep the set and camera in place (an important part of stop motion animation). My daughter (and her friends) were captivated and as an engineer and DIY’er, I thought, “I can totally build that at home.”

Middle was recently home with a cold/never ending fever for over a week. She likes reading, and TV isn’t a regular thing in the house, so there was lots of catching up to do. She doesn’t mind long stretches sitting still, but as someone who likes to always be moving, by day 4, I was bored of seeing her laying around.

Trying to entice her off the couch, I made our own stop motion animation station out of a couple boxes, glue, duct tape and card stock. It’s not an incredible set, but super easy and took less than 20 minutes from idea and materials searching to finished product. I took pictures and was going to post directions, but part of the fun of this sort of thing is figuring out your own solutions (and they might be better than mine!)  I would think a bunch of kids who would have a blast figuring something like this out, and using it.

Here are some of the pictures.

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April 10, 2015
by sarah
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Lentil Soup

lentil soupNext week is is supposed to warm up around here. Right now it is still soup weather. This is a great soup for a cold and wet day.

This recipe is made with lentils, but I think it is all about the bacon! My girls felt the same way and enjoyed this soup as much as the adults. It calls for only 3 slices of bacon. I cooked up the whole package of bacon in the cast iron dutch oven before I started the soup. We each had a side of bacon with dinner.

Lentil Soup
Adapted from “The New Best Recipe”

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dried white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Fry the bacon in a large dutch oven for 3-4 minutes, until the bacon is crisp.
  2. Add onion and carrots, cook for 2 minutes until they begin to soften.
  3. Add garlic, cook until fragrant
  4. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, lentils, salt, and pepper. Cover, cook until vegetables are softened – 8-10 minutes.
  5. Add wine, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil. Cover, simmer until lentils are tender – 30 minutes.
  6. Puree 3 cups of the soup in a blender until smooth and return to the pot.
  7. Stir in vinegar and serve.

 

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April 7, 2015
by sarah
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New Desk

Lucy Desk

My five year old has recently been a little like Pig Pen from Peanut’s.  Instead of dust and dirt she would leave a trail of art sheddings.  Glitter, paper clippings, markers, stickers, and her creations where left everywhere. I asked her if she would like a desk in her room to do projects on. She was delighted by this idea – so togehter, with the resources we had in the house, we made a desk.

Here was our thought process: The book shelf was already in her room. Nothing stayed on it because it was usually being made into some masterpiece. We found a nice thick piece of plywood that was left over from another project. We also found a wooden crate. Together we primed and painted the plywood. I drilled a hole in the crate and the plywood to attach them with a nut and bolt.   Then simply slid the other end onto the middle shelf. Now she has a large space to make her work as well as keep her supplies. It won’t be her forever desk, but it is perfect for now. She is very proud she helped with the concept and creation of it.

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April 7, 2015
by sarah
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Magna – Tiles

I don’t work for Magna – Tiles, but I wish I did! They are the toy of choice these days in my house. All three of my kids (age ranging from 3-8) love them. The little one uses them in her imaginary play either building for her guys or making food out of  them. My big guy has a more engineering approach to his play with them.

I was talking to a friend and veteran preschool teacher about how great they are. She mentioned they use them at her school on a light table. How can you make a cool toy even cooler? Make them glow!! The next day I saw this post, happened to have the supplies, and built a light box. magnatiles1 magnatiles2

 

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April 3, 2015
by jenny
2 Comments

And here’s our latest books

Sarah asked what everyone’s kids were reading. My kids are almost constantly with a head inside of a book so we are all over the place. I just went around and took some un-staged pictures of what is beside (or on) their messy beds as a quick cross section. They all enjoy reading the same books over and over with new ones mixed in.

First, I’ll say that the hottest thing in my house that all of my kids are very into is Raina Telgemeier. My girls have owned Smile and Sisters for a couple months and have re-read them weekly. My son very much enjoys them too. My ten year old got Drama yesterday and each girl read through it twice with the boy crying he wanted a turn.

This is my six year old son’s room:

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He is super into graphic novels. He’ll even read the non-fiction ones from the library on Volcanos and Greek Mythology. He was inspired by Giants Beware! (it’s back at the library) and is obsessed with learning to cook this week. He loves FoxTrot and talks about the characters like they are friends (“Mom, guess what Jason did at dinner last night?!”) For chapter books, he enjoys Stink, Flat Stanley , George Brown , Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Zapato Power, and really random books he’s probably too young for.

 

This is my eight year old daughter’s bed:

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Her favorites are The Lemonade War Series, Beverly Cleary (especially Ramona), Judy Moody (and Stink), Nancy Clancy , The Critter Club , and National Geographic Kids Chapter books on animals.

 

And my ten year old’s bed:

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She logs the most amount of time reading in our house (a few hours or more per day – I’m not exaggerating), but in an effort to encourage parents to lay with her at night, she recently cleared off the giant book piles she normal sleeps amongst. The usual teeter-y Jenga-esque pile next to the bed just holds a Kindle and a couple diaries today. The Land of Stories series is at the top of her favorites list.  She is a huge Wendy Mass fan, and likes Cindy Callaghan’s Lost In series as well. She leans towards those sorts of books, but will reads pretty much anything from any genre and I don’t try to keep up. She has a big passion for Muse magazine lately.

And that’s what’s going on in at our house!

 

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April 1, 2015
by jenny
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Ribbon Headband

Here’s a quick, easy and useful (if you are into this sort of thing) project: ribbon headbands. I feel like maybe Sarah makes these too, but didn’t see them in our archives. A velvet ribbon backer is the key to keep these from slipping around on your head, and suitable for work outs (or slippery heads).

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You only need ribbon and elastic. The width and dimensions should be based on preference of fit and what is available in cute ribbon. I use headbands around the house that fit to get length dimensions for our small heads.

 

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I use grosgrain ribbon for the top layer and velvet ribbon on the bottom with a braided elastic. I used two layers on the top here to get in team colors, but a single top layer is probably slightly more comfortable.

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Just stitch together the layers of ribbon, fold the ends under (you may want to use pinking shears or melt slightly to avoid fraying), shove the elastic in the ends and stitch securely. Done.

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March 25, 2015
by sarah
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Garden Update March 25

You are supposed to plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day around here. This is what me garden looked like on St. Patrick’s Day.

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I have cleared off one bed and covered it with compost hopefully the rain tonight will thaw the soil a bit. Maybe I will be able to plant the peas this weekend. garden325 1

 

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March 25, 2015
by sarah
1 Comment

Our Latest Books

books

Here are the books we are enjoying right now.

3-5 years old: Girl Power – “The Most Magnificent Thing” by Ashley Spires, “Not All Princesses Dress in Pink” by Jane Yolen, “Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon” by Patty Lovell

3-7 years old: We love Robert Munsch. “Love you Forever” is sorta weird, but his other ones are wonderful. If you find any audio books where he reads them they are even better.

8 year old reading by him self: “Stink” by Megan McDonald, “Arnie the Doughnut” by Laurie Keller , “Ninja Meerkats”by Gareth Jones and Luke Finlayson (not shown)

What I’m reading out loud: “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles” by Julie Andrews Edwards, and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl

What’s being read in your house?

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March 23, 2015
by sarah
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Button Flower Pins

button flower1

My five year old has expressed some interest in sewing. She is still a little too spazzy for using the sewing machine by her self. I also would like her to learn the basics of hand sewing first. We made a pillow for her doll a couple weeks ago. Then I saw this!  Fun, easy project that has great gift appeal!

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My additional tips:

  • The cutting and petals were very doable. She needed help with the finishing and the button.
  • Tracing the outside of the tape makes medium size ones. Tracing the inside of the tape makes small ones.
  • We made pins. I took a safety pin, placed the flower on one side of the shirt, and flipped the shirt edge over and adhered the pin to the wrong side through the flower.
  • I want to make some and glue gun magnates to them.button flower4
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