Apples apples apples

I love fall. I mean really love. I mean really really truly absolutely positively love. I grew up in the Midwest where fall meant cooler weather, crunchy leaves, snuggly sweaters and roaring fires. It was magical. Fall also meant the return of baking, warm spices, and a hot oven… oh I’m getting hungry just thinking of it.

Here in the Land of the Sun, it’s officially Autumn but sure doesn’t feel like it. We’ve had our 21st day of over 90° weather this month alone (that’s 21 out of 26 days people, CRAZY!).

But that has never stopped me before, and my Midwest roots are calling!

So here’s to Autumn and homemade applesauce!

I made a batch with Little Miss yesterday and everyone’s been devouring it. In fact we are going to have to make more soon.

Here’s my easy recipe…  and let me just say I’m not one for being super exact so feel free to tweak depending on your taste preferences.

8 apples, washed and cut
A splash of lemon juice
1 cup water (could use apple juice)
Tbsp cinnamon
Tsp clove
1/4 brown sugar (amount is very dependant on the type of apple you use).

Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, cover (crack lid) and set on medium high. Once contents boil, reduce to low, and wait; stirring as needed. BONUS, your house will smell deliciously like autumn.

Once completely soft and mushy use an immersion blender to blend up apples till all the pulp and skin are well blended. If you want to skip this step or prefer a chunkier apple sauce you will need to peel apples before cooking.

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This recipe is easy to multiply, convert to a slow cooker, and/or use the same process for other fruits such as pears, peaches, plums, strawberries, etc. How great would it be to combine fruits? Yum! I may have to try that soon. 🙂

I love fall! Have I said that already?

Listening bodies

Listening is a really hard skill. In fact, one of my greatest social sins is interrupting. I’m terrible at it!

And if I have a hard time with it I know the girls do too. I saw this neat idea on pinterest about “give me 5”. It’s a way to teach kids how to listen with there whole bodies.

I explained the concept to Little Miss and then we all (including Baby) made a poster to put up as a reminder. We each traced a hand as a “promise” that when any of us raised our hand it meant we had something important to say and the others needed to use good listening skills.

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The 5 skills are as follows:

1. Bodies still
2. Mouths quiet
3. Eyes looking
4. Ears listening
5. Hands free (meaning nothing in them)

We practiced the skills several times while making the poster.

I can’t say it’s been a miracle, but it has been a helpful reminder. And it was a great way to teach the girls that what they have to say is important too.

How do you help teach good listening?

Vroom Vroom!

They always say kids play with the box more than the toy, but today Baby Miss and I took that to new heights. Today we made a toy out of a box.
The latest shipment of diapers arrived on the front porch this morning and after putting said diapers away, Baby Miss and I stared at the large box leftover. There had to be some way to use it other than just by recycling it or using it to hold things.

I decided to take it apart completely and see what I could come up with. As I started fiddling with it, the idea came to make a road (Baby Miss has been fascinated by cars and trucks lately), but not just a road, a ramp! I taped the box together so that it formed a triangle. Then I showed Baby Miss how to hold the cars at the top and say “1,2,3 go!” (a great way to add number skills).

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She loved it! I’m thinking of letting Little Miss decorate it; perhaps as a quiet time activity- when Baby Miss is napping.

Do you have any great ideas for cardboard boxes?

Fall prints

So I’ve been wanting to do a fall craft with Baby Miss for a few days now, but she is very adverse to “mess” so it had to be something that would keep her relatively clean (ie nothing sticky, gritty, anything that would goop up her hands, etc). So I thought, why not have her do a print of something. That way her hands never get in the paint.

This is what I did.

I layed out a giant piece of white paper and taped it to the ground. Then I drew in brown crayon the outline of a tree.

I gave Baby Miss a wine cork and bowl with red and yellow paint.
Then I showed her how to stamp the cork in the paint, then on the paper.

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It was easy, generally clean, and turned out great. For slightly older kids, feel free to talk about how red and yellow mix to make orange. You can also paint their forearms and hands to make the tree trunk and branches.

The next fall craft we will try will be apple prints. Ill let you know how that goes. 🙂

Instant oatmeal

So when Mr. Right and I first moved in together, his mother bestowed upon us several boxes of snack sized ziplocs. I’ve always felt guilty about it because I’ve never really had a purpose for them. That is, until today.

Now that the weather is starting to cool down, I’m much more in the mood for a warm hearty breakfast. Enter- oatmeal.

And can I just say I never really appreciated oatmeal until I became an adult. I don’t know why. It can be topped with everything from fruit to nuts to chocolate. It’s filling. It’s creamy and just plain delicious.
But honestly, on a Monday morning I’m really not in the mood to stand over the stove stirring oatmeal.

That is why I was so excited to see a ton of homemade instant oatmeal ideas floating all over pinterest.
So yesterday I finally came up with a use for all those teeny tiny ziplocs- my own instant oatmeal!

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Here’s what I used.
1/2 cup instant oats
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
A good shake of cinnamon
Small handful of craisins (optional)

Other add-in ideas include any other dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, coconut, etc. There really are no limits.

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Several recipes I saw included powdered milk. I decided just to omit that and use milk when I microwave it- it’s turned out just fine, and I feel like it ends up creamier.

To cook, just pour your little baggie in a bowl, add enough milk to soak oats and “nuke” for 2 min. (obviously all microwaves are different, so times can vary).

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Tada! Oatmeal! And its so easy and so delicious.

A great, quick, healthy, whole food breakfast. Love it!

Cheers! xoxo

My summer breakfast

As I promised earlier, I want to share with you some great, easy, quick breakfasts for all those days when you are on the run, which is always.

Today I’m going to share with you my favorite summer breakfast. I know I know, it’s September and I’ve been trying to pretend it’s fall. But in all honesty, it’s going to be 90° today so … summer breakfast is what you get.

I present to you- the almighty smoothie. Ok so I’m not reinventing the wheel or anything but I want to share how I do it.

I like to go to the farmers market every weekend and it always happens that I get more then I can finish. When I realize any fruit is getting past it’s prime, I freeze it. Chop it, lay it in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and stick in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, I place it in a ziploc.

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I use the frozen fruit in place of ice cubes for my smoothie. Then all I add is yogurt, toss in a blender, and voila! An almost instant breakfast full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Awesome!

I choose to use plain yogurt to cut down on the sugar, but if you prefer vanilla is also a great go-to flavor. Also, because I don’t use any liquid I do not use Greek yogurt. It tends to be too thick.

 

I love that depending on the day and what fruit I have on hand, my smoothie is always different. Right now I’m using a lot of peaches and strawberries, but just month ago I was devouring lots of blueberries. Next month it will be something completely different. It keeps things interesting.

Oo, and one more tip! You know when bananas start to go brown and go on sale? Grab them, peel them, and freeze those for smoothies too. I love to save a buck! 🙂

Cheers!

A Brilliant Idea

Oh. My. Gosh. It has been one of those weeks. Do you ever have those? When everything happens at once and it just seems to zap the life out of you? I’ve felt like I have been moving through jello all week; until today. For some reason I woke up this morning and felt fabulous! Perhaps it has something to do with the 9 hours of sleep I got last night (right!?!), or the two cups of coffee this morning- but I’ve been clipping all day. I’ve been getting things done!

I’ve even had enough energy to deal with Little Miss wanting me to read every label on every one of her chapsticks, smell them, and then comment on how great they look on her. She just had a birthday and it seems everyone had the same idea to get her brightly colored, sparkly, sugary smelling chapsticks (including myself). I know I’ve been beating myself up over it every since. :-p

So in my rush of energy today- I had an idea. A brilliant idea. An absolutely awesome, brilliant idea. I’ve heard a bit about these kid “book clubs” where you pay for a subscription and this company sends you a book with directions and materials for activities. And I thought- I could do that! I mean, not start my own company, but start a junior book club.

courtesy of swiss-miss.com

I was hashing out the idea with a nanny friend at the park this morning and this is what I came up with.

Meet once a month on a predetermined day (say 3rd Friday at 2pm, or 1st Tuesday at 11am). Each month has a theme. I figured it would be pretty hard for all the parents to get their hands on the same book each month, and seeing as this is for preshoolers (ie picture books) we could probably handle more then one book a month. So! And here’s the brilliant part- there is no book that each family has to read. Instead, everyone reads as many books as they can on a particular topic- then we gather and discuss our favorites. I figured we could also create a list of our favorite books as an ongoing resource for each other.

Each discussion would follow with a craft and activity determined and supplied by the facilitator (determined by whose house we are meeting at).

And that’s it! It gets the kids reading, socializing, discussing, and doing something with Mom, Dad, Nanny, Grandma, etc.

Pretty darn brilliant if I do say so myself.

We have our first meeting set for the end of this month- and our theme is Apples.Yay!

courtesy of wikipedia.com

I found some great books at the library today and will also be hunting through Baby and Little Miss’ books to see what they have already. I’m going to invite each child to bring their favorite apple and we are going to graph them by color together. We are also going to make apple trees from their handprints and using apples as “stamps”. I’ll make sure to take lots of pictures from our first “meeting” to show you all.

I’m so excited!

courtesy of cartoonstock.com