Friday, October 18, 2013

Sweetest Holiday Preschool Activity: Play Dough Love Letters

If you want to do a really simple preschool activity for Sweetest Day, Valentine's Day, or any other lovely holiday, consider making play dough love letters. You only really need play dough (homemade or store bought) for this activity and you can easily customize it to many kids ability levels.

All the kids will get some exposure to written letters and words and have some fun in the process. this is a great multisensory activity for reading and writing. A visual, kinesthetic, and tactile experience that also helps build hand muscle strength through working with the play dough.

If you really want to thrill the kids and turn this activity into snack time as well, you could use edible chocolate play dough!

Sweetest Day or Valentine's Day Preschool Activity: Play Dough Love Letters

  • Play dough (homemade or store bought)
  • Rolling pins, cookie cutters, plastic knifes or scissors, chopsticks, etc. (totally optional)
Give each child a lump of play dough and whatever instructions you want them to follow.

The youngest children who can't really follow instructions yet can play with play dough in festive holiday colors.

Young children can try to make hearts or single letters. My second born age three at the time could do this quite well.

Older children can spell out entire words or phrases. You can write them on a blackboard or magnetic writer for them to copy if they are still learning how to spell. My firstborn son who was four at the time really got into this activity and kept wanting to spell longer and longer words!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

DIY Sweetheart PB&J Sandwiches

Makes your littlest sweethearts extra happy this Saturday and serve them heart-shaped sandwiches for Sweetest Day. Last Valentine's Day I served these for lunch and my kids were thrilled. Sometimes it is the little things like having your sandwich cut in a special shape that makes a meal special of a child.

I made PB&J sandwiches like normal and used a giant heart cookie cutter to cut out the center in a heart shape. We ate the outside of the sandwiches the next day. You could a cut the bread ahead of time and save the crusts for breadcrumbs.

Friday, October 11, 2013

DIY Kisses and Hugs Cookies

Send your love ones some hugs and kisses for Sweetest Day. These sweet sugar cookies are a simple way to let them know you love them on Sweetest Day, Valentines Day, your anniversary or anytime of the year.

This sugar cookie and icing recipe paired together beautifully, but if you already have your own family favorites feel free to use those instead.

I didn't have X and O cookie cutters, so I simply cut the dough into even strips and placed two short strips perpendicular on top of one another and pressed down to form an X. For the O I used two different size jars to cut the outside and inside edges of the ring.

This can also be a fun project to do together with kids. Kids love cutting out sugar cookies and painting them.

Do be sure to let the sugar cookies cool completely before icing, and the icing harden completely before stacking or serving for best presentation.

Homemade Roll Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Milk (if the dough is too dry)
  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients, incorporating flour about 1 cup at a time.
  4. If the dough is too dry add milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator a couple of hours or overnight. I did find that with all real butter though I had to let the dough soften up a bit after chilling it overnight.
  6. Roll small sections of dough at a time to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 400F for 6-8 minutes, until edges just begin to brown.

Powdered Sugar Icing Recipe

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk
  • Food coloring if desired
  1.  Place powdered sugar is a small mixing bowl and add milk a Tbsp at a time until a nice consistency. Stir until smooth. Add food coloring if desired.
  2. Drizzle or paint cooled cookies with a food safe brush. Sprinkle with sugar or sprinkles if desired.
  3. Allow to harden for 1 hour before stacking or serving.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

DIY Upcycled Blue Jean Kitchen Towels

Perhaps in going through your fall clothes you have found some jeans you no longer want to keep. Instead of donating  or tossing them, perhaps you can re-purpose the sturdy denim fabric into something else useful.

There are so many great uses for old blue jeans, and these upcycled blue jean kitchen towels are one of them. Sturdy and absorbent these are been great for both hand towels and dish towels.

I think these could even make great gift for a college student or young working adult starting out on their own for the first time!

DIY Upcycled Blue Jean Kitchen Towels

  • Old blue jeans or other denim clothing (I used a bunch of different blue jeans in a variety of weights and sizes for these towels. I also like the look of the flat felled sea
    ms, so is doesn't bother me at all to have them in the middle of my towels, but if you didn't want seams you could reuse denim skirts or something else with more seam-free material.)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine, preferably with a sturdy jean needle
  1. Cut the denim into a square or rectangle in the size you desire, adding 1 inch around the entire perimeter for the hem allowance. I basically used the entire width of whatever jean legs I had and made rectangles. I had smaller size jean legs that I made smaller (and closer to a square like shape) towels for drying our hands, and larger jean legs that I made large rectangular dish towels out of. I also chose to use lighter weight denim for the dish towels and heavier weight denim for the hand towels, and I'm happy with all of these choices, but of course choose what is best for you out of what you have to work with. Cut a 4 by 6 inch piece to use for a loop for hanging the towel.
  2. Fold the edges of the 4 by 6 inch piece in 1 inch and then in half to make a 1 by 6 inch strip with finished long sides. You can iron the strip before you sew if you like. I don't in part because I don't have an iron, and mostly because I hate ironing.
  3. Now you want to sew a double rolled seam around the perimeter of your towel, inserting each of the ends of the strip a couple inches from the edge of one corner. You may want to clip small squares out of the corners and some of the seam allowance out of the flat felled seams where you will be sewing over them to reduce the bulk and make it easier for your machine to sew over them. Just make sure not to clip to far and end up with a fraying hem. Again you can iron ahead of time if you like.
  4. After you round the last corner and back tack, simply clip any loose threads and your ready to enjoy your towels!
Such a quick, easy, and useful project.

I'm loving having a whole new set of coordinating kitchen towels that go great in our blue and white kitchen. :)


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Alexander is 1 Year Old!

Baby boy is one year old today! Amazing. It seems like he was just born.

At 1 year Alexander:
  • Is 23.5 pounds and 31.75 inches
  • Is wearing 18-24 month clothes
  • Is still talking, signing, and babbling away  with the same words he has been
  • Is walking! ( He was taking a couple of steps here and there, but the day before his birthday he started taking about 8 or so steps in a row quite a few times)
  • Loves to play ball
  • Initiates playing peek a boo and thinks it is hysterical
  • Makes animal noises
  • Can read "The End" (He claps like we do when we get to the end of a set of flashcards)
We're so blessed to have him as part of our family.

Friday, October 4, 2013

DIY Upcycled Ruffle Seam Sweater Blanket

As we head into fall and you start getting out your sweaters, perhaps you find some extras (like I did last spring), that are still in good shape, but just don't fit right or you don't need anymore. This Ruffle Seam Sweater Blanket is a great way to upcycle them into something really useful. It is a quick and easy project that you can do with a standard sewing machine as long as it has a zigzag stich.
The colors of the sweaters can be chosen to match your home decor, especially for a certain holiday, or just happy favorite colors of that cute kid who likes to cuddle under blankets in the winter. I made this blanket last spring and it has held up remarkably well through lots of use and washing.

 DIY Upcycled Ruffle Seam Sweater Blanket

  • 4-8 discarded sweaters
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  1. Cut the body of the the sweaters into uniform size squares or rectangles based on your desired final size and shape. Decide if you want to use long strips or small squares from the sleeves as well (or you can save them for sweater butt pants or another project). I used the body of about five sweaters, but the arms of two and a half.
  2. Pin pieces together right sides out and sew edge securely and heavily using a zigzag stitch, stretching the fabric as you go. Stretching while zigzagging the knit will create the ruffled effect of the seam and keep it nice and secure through lots of use.
  3. Continue sewing pieces together with right sides out until the entire blanket is assembled.
  4. Sew around the entire edge of the blanket in the same way, using a heavy zigzag stitch and streching as you go.
  5. Cuddle up and enjoy the warmth of your favorite sweater in blanket form!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

DIY Egg Fried Rice

Chinese National Day is October 1 and if you want to make an quick, easy, authentic, and American approved dish to celebrate, egg fried rice is a great way to go. 

For best results use cold leftover rice, although you can still make this with hot fresh rice. You can also throw in any chopped precooked meat you want at the end. The most authentic choice would actually be a hot dog or bad spam, but we generally prefer chicken if we want to eat this dish with meat at home.

Homemade Egg Fried Rice

  • Enough rice for each person you are serving
  • Leftover or fresh vegetables of your choice chopped small
  • Enough eggs for 1-2 per person
  • Oil
  1. In a wok or large frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of oil.
  2. When the oil is hot add rice into the pan and stir thoroughly.
  3. Quickly add in the vegetables and crack the eggs on top. Stir until the eggs are cooked and everything is hot.
  4. Serve hot with salt or soy sauce on top.



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