Monthly Archives: January 2012

One of My Favorite Things



One of man’s greatest inventions? 

Maybe not, but let me tell you why I love mine.  I found them at the thrift store 6 months ago for 3 dollars a piece.  There were 3 of them.  They are old school, from the 50s I think, and still in great condition.  I looked up Prolon Ware online and it looks like they still make lots of dishes although I doubt they still make lunch trays with styrofoam being the choice of many schools. 

A typical lunch before these wonderful things consisted of a p.b. & j. sandwich with an apple if they (my 3 kids) were lucky.  We snacked on other things pretty much all day so lunch wasn’t a big deal.  However, after I got these trays, the kids wanted every space filled, so lunch became a meal again!  And a really healthy one, too.  I would end up making a p.b. & j. of course, but then fill up the other spaces with carrots and dip, fruit, a drink, applesauce, cottage cheese, and even go-gurt or string cheese where the utensils go.  And because they were eating such a filling lunch, we only have one snack between meals now!  

That’s why I love my lunch trays! 

p.s. the meal in the picture is actually a dinner.  NO WAY do I put that much effort into our lunches! 


DIY Ribbon Wands


I made these easy to make wands to use while teaching music in the nursery class at church. They are fun to wave and watch flutter through the air which entices kids (and adults) to move to music. Make a few, put on some fun music, and DANCE! Read the rest of this entry

Kindergarten-where have you gone?


Kinder-garten means “Children garden” in German.  As we continue this metaphor, let us relate the children to plants.  Last year when we planted our garden, we prepared the soil, planted the seeds, watered them and breathlessly waited for our seeds to sprout.  Some plants came up earlier than others, and some looked rather small and weak compared to thier “brothers” when they first came up.  Soon, though, they all grew and flourished in the sunlight (until they got eaten by raccoons, but we won’t go there). 

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that most gardeners do not force the plants to come up early or crack open the seeds to see what is inside.  It does, sadly seem like this is what is happening to our children in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades.  I don’t blame the teachers, of course!  I used to be one myself.  I think the problem has arisen from some really bad legislation (NCLB!) and in thinking that if we can somehow get an early start on teaching our children, that perhaps we can improve our ranking worldwide (US is ranked #15 in reading literacy). 

What is being taught in Kindergarten now is what used to be taught in 1st grade 10 or so years ago.  My first taste of this was during my student teaching.  I was amazed at the amount of phonics the kids were learning!  They knew the offical names of all the markings and were sounding out words and it was only Februrary!  Well, not all of them were, the lowest reading group was FAR behind.  I remember being impressed, but also sad that this was not the fun kindergarten I remember.  There were no snacks, no rest time, and playtime looked much more structured.  Then I got a job teaching kindergarten and found out we were supposed to spend a huge chunk of our time in class on reading instruction.  SOOO much time that there wasn’t much time for anything else. 

I had learned in College that play is the way young children learn.  That their brains are what Piaget calls “pre-opperational”.  This means that abstract things (like the printed word) are hard for them to grasp.  The “opperational” stage comes into play at around 7.  This doesn’t mean 5 year olds CAN’T be taught to read, even babies can be taught to read; but it is more of a stimulus-response thing.  As Jane M. Healy says in her book Your Child’s Growing Mind “The human brain can be trained to do almost anything if the task is simplified enough and one is willing to devote the necessary time and energy.  Reading becomes a low-level skill, and there is a danger it will remain at the level where it was learned and practiced.” 

That is not the only danger of pushing reading on our children too early.  There are so many students in school who have been frusterated in thier attempts to read.  Made to try before they were develpmentally ready, reading become a huge mountain to scale, instead of an exciting journey.  I relate it to potty training.  If you try to push it too soon (and I know, because I have)  it is so difficult and stressful for the child to not be able to do it when they are trying so hard.  They get frusterated and resistant about the whole thing.  However, if you back off and watch for when they seem to be interested or ready, it can happen really quickly and they have a wonderful sense of accomplishment! 

So, what am I saying in all this?  I think that we need to let our children play.  Let them enjoy life and explore and build their sense of wonder and enjoyment of learning about the world around them.  Let us focus on other things to get our children ready for school rather than sitting down with them and quizzing them on ABC’s and sight words.  “Many bright, even gifted, children do not read early.  Please give them lots of language and listening experinces and let them enjoy stories without an underlying aura of expectation that they cannot fulfill.”  says Jane M. Healy.  “The time you spend reading to your child is the best predictor of later reading success.”

My answer to the problem of the public schools being forced into a “reading and math frenzy” is to send my kids to a Waldorf school where reading is not taught until 2nd grade and the arts and sciences  and history flourish.  I wish I had a solution for the schools, but I don’t know what it will take to change the course. 


So.  Now you know what I think.  What do you think?

Rooting Herbs

Rooting Herbs


I have a confession to make. I kill potted plants. If it is in my house and in a pot, it will die. I have no trouble growing things in the ground. In fact, I think I’m pretty good at gardening. But potted plants, watch out!  It’s frustrating, especially since I love to cook with fresh herbs and hate paying the exorbitant prices at the grocery store.  Alas, indoor herbs live in pots….. or so I thought.

Read the rest of this entry

3 T-Shirt Makeovers!


These shirts were so fun to make.  My little sis. found a deal of two shirts for 5 $ at Down East Outfitters.  I had her get two pink and two cream, and I got the 2 purple shirts at kohls.  I got the tutorials for all three shirts from   Enjoy!

Pants-to-Skirt Conversion


Now that the holidays are over and I have a bit of time on my hands again, I’ll hopefully get some work done on the stack of projects I have waiting for me!  This week: turning an old, out of style pair of slacks into not just one, but two,  nice new skirts!  (One for me and one for the two year old.)   The pictures aren’t the clearest, but hope you get the idea.

This idea was borrowed and altered from a post that I can’t find right now.  I’ll get you that link as soon as I can find it again!

I agree with the original writer- the crotch-part of pants is the most awkward part of turning pants into skirts.  A lot of people just pick it apart and end up sewing it straight on to the front of the skirt.  Confession:  I have done this in the past.  Yes, it was cool in high school but my “look” has changed significantly since then.

And so, at her suggestion, I severed the top of the pants from the bottom above the awkward spot.  Much better.

These pants were a little too hip-y for me, so I sewed a straight line down from the waist so they would fit me better in the hip- area.

I then cut each pant leg down one side and sewed both legs together to make one big piece.  These pants were significantly tapered (not really the style right now….)  so I flipped them around so the skirt would flare out in a nice A-line.


I hemmed the top-now-bottom of the pant legs and sewed the remaining edge of the pant legs together to make the tube that would be the skirt.

I figured out where the width of the bottom of the top of the pants matched the top of the bottom of the skirt (does that make sense?)  and I cut off the part of the pant legs that I didn’t need and then, after lining up the seams on the front and the back, I sewed and surged the top of the pants to the skirt bottom.  You can see there was still a weird little line from the crotch area, so I just sewed that straight down in the front and the back to make it flat. Done!

Skirt number two was even easier.  I just took the left over part of the pants legs, hemmed it, made a little flower out of scraps and used snaps to make a little wrap-around skirt for the two year old!














And here we are in our matching skirts.  Fun, eh?

















....and now we've had enough of the skirt


Thanks for reading!

Quinoa for Breakfast

Quinoa is not a grass, but its seeds have been...

Image via Wikipedia

Ever had it?  It’s quite good.  I like it with chopped dates, shredded coconut, and almonds but you could add just about anything.

1.  Cook the desired amount of quinoa according to package directions.  If you want, any kind of milk may be substituted for some of the water.  I used a can (1 1/2 cups) of coconut milk.  You can also leave the liquid 1/2 cup short and add 1/2 cup of evaporated milk (or cream) after the quinoa has cooked if you like your hot cereal more creamy.

2.  As for sweeteners, you can add sugar to taste with the liquid.  If you prefer something more natural you can replace some of the liquid with an equal amount of honey, agave nectar, molasses, or maple syrup.  I prefer to add this at the end because the quinoa seems to cook more quickly without it, but I can’t prove that scientifically. 😉

3.  Add any dried fruit with the liquid.  Dates, dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, dried figs, crystalized ginger….  You are only limited by your imagination! (and whatever you have in your pantry.)

4.  Serve hot with milk and additional toppings, if desired.  I used shredded coconut, almonds and plain greek yogurt.  You could also use walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pistachios, chocolate, whipped cream,…..

Viola!  Not the prettiest hot breakfast, but darn tasty!  If you prefer a beautiful breakfast, try red quinoa.  Either way it’s a welcome change from oatmeal.

Breakfast, don’t leave home without it!