Archive for October, 2010

Bat Cookies!

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I am the playdough parent for Clara’s preschool classroom this year, and this past couple of weeks, black playdough for Halloween has been requested.  I am not a huge fan of the black playdough, myself.  It’s hard to make, I always think its burning, and it’s just… ewww!  But, I have a whole bottle of black food coloring at home now.  Who knew such a thing existed, anyway?!  So, I had to come up with something to use it on!  Hence, bat cookies!

Clara and I made up a batch of sugar cookie dough using this recipe from Epicurious.  We rolled out the dough (with my new rolling-pin that I got for Adam and I’s tenth wedding anniversary!), cut out bats with our cookie cutter, baked, and let them cool until Clara’s friend Oliver could make it over to decorate.
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I was surprised that neither kid ate the frosting off the spoon nor ate the M&Ms out of the bowl.  They both treated this like an art project until they were all done.  Then they got to eat them!  Love the black mouths!  They were really yummy cookies despite the black frosting and were really cute and easy to decorate!  Happy Halloween!
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Halloween Stained Glass… Preschool Style!

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I have been seeing projects like this all over the web the last couple of weeks and knowing that I wanted to do something Halloweenish, I decided that this would be fun.  So, after perusing this blog, this blog, this blog, and this blog, I finally got down to business with this easy, although somewhat mommy-centric craft.

While Dinosaur Train was on, I cut two sets of templates, a bat and a pumpkin out of black paper, then put sticky, clear contact paper on one side.  I also cut up a bunch of colored tissue paper.
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Then when my nephew Drew came over, I invited the kids to come do some art! They stuck pieces of tissue on the sticky contact paper. I asked them to cover the whole surface. Drew thought that was too messy and asked for my help, but Clara thought it was great and even did it one piece at a time rather than by the handful as she has done other times (like with these).
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Then Mommy cut off the excess tissue and contact paper and we put them on the window! Sorry about all of the glare in the pictures. It was the wrong time of day to photograph them, but it hasn’t been sunny since!
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Autumn Leaf Lanterns

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What do you do on a boring morning full of rain, before its time to go to the swimming pool?  Well, you figure out what to make with the leaves that you picked up the day before and placed neatly under a giant cookbook (Best Recipe, in case you were wondering). Clara helped me place leaves on waxed paper, then we put a sheet on top, ironed over it (with a thin rag in between the iron and the wax), taped them around a pint-sized mason jar, popped in an Ikea tea candle (100 for $3!), and there you have it!

Clara has been obsessed with the dark, lately. Its dark when she wakes up –way too early– and its dark when she goes to bed after months of her not experiencing the dark anywhere besides her bed. So these were great fun to watch flickering during dinner last night!
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Baby Food 101

I love making my own baby food.  Its such a great mommy thing to do.  I can make everything that my baby puts in her mouth from the moment she starts eating.  Plus, its fun.  My main sources of help in doing this are this book and this website.  Its actually quite easy and does not really require any special equipment if you have a good food processor or blender.

I made all of Clara’s food (although she only ate purees for maybe two months) and I’ve started making Nancy’s food, too.  Of course, this time around, I have help.  I’m not sure that its easier, but it sure can eat up some time while the baby naps (and is more productive than playing Hi Ho Cherry-o for the tenth time today, not that I don’t LOVE that game!).  Anywhoo… Clara helped me make acorn squash baby food this past week.  Here’s how to make your own batch!
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1)  Buy some acorn squash!  This is the perfect time of year.  I got these for $0.68 EACH (not per pound!!).   That means that the entire squash was the same price as one of those little jars of baby food.  Crazy frugal food!

2) While your helper is washing her hands in the bathroom, cut the squash in half. Believe me. Its just less scary than trying to do it with her help. Then when she returns, ask her to scoop out all of the seeds and put them in a bowl for the chickens to eat.
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3) Microwave the squash halves cut side down in a microwave safe container until soft. I cooked the squashes one at a time for fifteen minutes. While they cook, play with the seeds. My helper literally did this for about twenty minutes. Notice the use of coffee filters in the picture. Those things are golden!
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4) Run outside and give the chickens the seeds when you finally finish playing with them. The chickens love squash seeds and may fight over them, which is always fun.
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5) Check for eggs. No, they will not be going in the baby food.
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6) Come back inside, re-wash hands, then scoop the flesh out of the squash halves and put into the food processor. Process until smooth, adding water as necessary to get the consistency that your baby likes (remember, you can always add more when you’re feeding it to your baby). Your helper will really enjoying pushing the button on the food processor.
7) Put all of the food into ice cube trays and freeze for a few hours. When frozen solid, pop the cubes out and put in a ziplock bag. When baby is hungry, put one or more in a bowl, microwave, and pretend your spoon is an airplane.
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Fall Window Tree

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Since we are sick here in the Foster residence, I’ve been coming up with all sorts activities to try to keep us busy and active without leaving the house.  I’m so glad that I found this blog from Frugal Family Fun Blog.   This took up and entire morning!  We painted coffee filters, cut out the tree, hung the tree, dug up carrots from the garden while waiting for the coffee filters to dry, cut out leaves, and hung those on the tree. Overall, a very fun project that the whole neighborhood can see since its on our front porch screen door.
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Also, we learned that coffee filters are fun for all sorts of things. They make great boats for little animals, make pie crusts for mixing all sorts of “food” into, and are just fun to try to separate for fine motor skill practice. Thank goodness they are cheap!

Grapes!

The other day, we planned and executed a wet, but fun trip to taste table grapes.  There were  thirty different varieties to pick and we brought home a bunch, which I thought would last until at least the end of the week, but half were gone before we even made it home and the other half were gone in a couple of days.  We went with Clara’s friend Maya and despite the rain, both girls had a blast running around, picking and eating grapes, and especially wielding their umbrellas.
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Prior to going, we had some free time to kill, so we made a grape art project.  I got this idea from the great blog, No Time for Flash Cards.  We used purple painted bubble wrap to stamp a “grape” pattern on white paper, backed it with green card stock, and cut it into the shape of a bunch of grapes.
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Step 1: Paint bubble wrap.
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Step 2: Stamp bubble wrap on paper.
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Step 3: Glue onto green card stock and cut.
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Most people think that fall is all about harvesting apples. But really, if you’re in the right frame of mind, its all about the grapes.