Friday, August 27, 2010

Learning Letters and Sounds with Flashcards

Being a teacher, I couldn't resist showing these to you! I stumbled upon this idea as I was looking for some baby/sewing tutorials, and thought I should share the work of this talented mom with you! If you are a mom of a preschooler or a care-giver of any sort, read on!

Homemade by Jill is a blog I have visited before. In this post of hers, she shows off these cute little flashcards that she made to teach her son the letters of the alphabet and the sounds each letter makes. I have a son who is reading a bunch already (and not quite in school yet) and a daughter who couldn't care less about letters and numbers. However, the ballerina card was pretty catchy for her, so she looked through them all. :)

Thought I would share them with you. . . the teacher in me thought they were very cute and very useful. Laminate, punch a hole and put them on a ring, and you have an instant "book" to take along with you in the car or to read before bed.

(One warning I do have for you if you are printing them off, the "regular" print option had a few glitches when I tried it. . .some of the letters needed a bit of fixing before laminating.)

*Image taken from Homemade by Jill post (see link above)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Baby Bib & Tag Blanket

I did some sewing again!

Little a has been agreeable during the evenings, and I've had my hubby home to keep him company, so I pulled out my old little sewing machine again!

A bunch of months ago, I showed this project (baby burp blankets):

I made a few more for the other babies being born to friends and family. Then I also tried to make a matching bib. This baby bib project I got from a website I found "Homemade by Jill." But like all tutorials I follow, I had to change it to make it my own.

However, this time, I wasn't 100% happy with my results. I liked it enough to still include it in a gift, but I didn't LOVE it. Jill's were cuter and nicer. Maybe I should have followed hers exactly.

Here was my pattern. I cut out the flannel--same stuff as the receiving blankets I had made. Then I used the same trim and went around the bib (instead of following the tutorial). I ended at the neck back and stitched the rest without the trim. When I made a second one, I did the same, but put a few embellishments on (a button with a tie for decoration on the bottom left corner--where was my camera that time??? It was a bit cuter!)

So, yah. It was cute, it was fine, but it wasn't one of those projects I am jumping to make more of immediately.

Then when I had little a, my friend gave me this little pacifier blanket that she had made. I LOVED it! I had seen one a few weeks before (compliments of my little nephew from the Midwest) and thought that this was a project I could find on the net and make, but then little a came a little too early, so . . . that never happened!

Thankfully my friend is so super creative and crafty and gifted one for little a! (And I love, love, love the soft minky material!!!) Little a is now at that age where he is holding it and sleeping with it, so he love, love, loves it too! A super great gift!

So, a bunch of months/weeks/days later, I decided I wanted to still give it a try--to try to make one of these, but to make one that matched the blankets I had been making. So, here is my go at it:

The first thing I learned is that you should not sew if you still have a super bad case of mommy-head and lack of sleep. I made a huge obvious mistake that I can't believe I am actually admitting to on my blog. I sewed it all wrong!

The following is step two--not step one as I tried!

I sewed the binding on to the sides first. This obviously doesn't work when you need to sew the tags on the other sides later. Oops!

So here is my binding (see the unfinished white edge?). . .that I needed to take apart on all the corners later on. It still finished nicely, just double the work. Next time, I'll do a better job!

So, this part would be your first step. . .

Cut the ribbons for your "tags" or loops.

Have your fabric right sides together. (I used a square that was about a foot or a foot and a half square.) Pin one of the ribbons (folded as a loop to the edge that you want to sew). I pinned four tags on one edge. The "bad ends" were even with the edge of the fabric.

Then sew across the edge of the fabric. I tried taking a picture in the light so you could see my tags through the fabric. I did this to opposite ends (the top and the bottom).

Now is the time that you would want to turn the fabric inside out so the good side is showing and the tags are sticking out as shown. Then you want to sew the binding onto the sides of the blanket! Finishing the corners. . .you'll have to fold them under and hand-sew them if you want a neat, tidy finish, or you can just leave them with a cut edge at the end.(I opted for the neat edge; the original tutorial I used for the burp blankets, she made her edges just raw and cut). Then I finished off the tag blankets by stitching across the top and bottom edges about a 1/4 inch down from the edge.

And the finished project:

Baby Bib &Tag Blanket, Part 2

Just wanted to show some follow-up work. . .

Above, on the right is a burp cloth and a tag blanket as described in above previous post.
On the left. . .I had a bit of fabric left over, but not enough to do anything with, so I used it as the tag blanket "background", and made it with no cute border and a bit smaller. It is just top stitched around the entire deal. It still matches, so I am happy.

And above, is the boring part of all this blanket making. . .the creation of the binding. Lots of ironing and folding and measuring (Using an old, rickety, stained mini-ironing board. . .it was great back in my college days, and small enough to easily store. Maybe next on my list of sewing projects should be an ironing board cover. . .)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer Reading Reviews

Continuing on our summer reading program with the kids. . .

A few more books we've read for you to take a peek at (from the last two weeks):

Wiggle, Giggle Tickle Train by Nora Hilb and Sharon Jennings

My hubby asked a few weeks ago which is more important in children's picture books/story books: the writer or the illustrator? I said both, and this book definitely demonstrates that. The words are a little rhyming jingle accompanied by a drawn (okay pencil crayons and watercolour as the media) picture of kids being imaginative and creative. On the opposite page, is a photograph taken that is of the "same thing" in real life. Example, on the one page where it talks about a train and the train noises and actions, the "drawn" picture is about kids making trains out of household objects and their imagination. The photo is obviously a real train. There are a few creative ones that my E had to think about the connection between the two. Cool book! On a mommy level it is neat to see pictures of imaginative play and know your kids do the same thing. . .or a variation of such imaginative play!

Once I Ate A Pie by P. McLauchlan and E. McLauchlan Chrest; illustrated by Katy Schneider
This book is about a bunch of dogs. We chose this one from the Library because my son had developed a HUGE fear of dogs (we may have a few in our neighborhood who like to yap a LOT and nibble at ankles! An aside, for all you dog owners out there. . .please keep your dogs on leashes when they are on the streets!!!) So, one idea to help calm his fears was to get a few "dog" books. This one is a cute one, as the photos of the dogs are very well done (E could pick out each dog and compare it to one of the dogs he knows of) and the "story" are all thoughts of dogs--nice ones and naughty ones! Each page is the thoughts of the one dog pictured. It starts with a puppy, and ends with the same one as a dog. . .making the story have a bit of a circular or cyclic feel.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
This author/illustrator also does the book The House that Jack Built. As you can see, it earned itself an honour. . .and I agree. The moral of the story is that "you can always make something out of nothing" and describes this in a very creative and cute way. The part that E and Princess A liked best, was that there are "holes" in the book. . .yes, the one object keeps being re-purposed until it becomes so small and lost. They loved finding the hole on each page and seeing what the new thing was. It is easy reading, a little repetitive, and was a great book for my little reader. Taback includes an explanation about how he re-did this book into this very one and it also includes a folk song in the back for which the story is based on. Me, being the musician and singer that I am, will save that for another fine reader of the book. . .words are easy. . .notes on a staff=not so much!

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman; illustrated by Julie Paschkis
For my Princess A, we need to find "princess books" when we go to the library. She enjoyed this book, but it was way beyond her understanding. This is definitely a picture book for an older crowd! The author tells the story of Cinderella, but tells each part of it in the way different countries around the world have passed on the story. Confusing for preschoolers, but an amazing teaching tool for fantasy literature and fairy tales for older grade levels.
The illustrator does something similar. Each part of the story is illustrated based on what the words say (ie: if the glass slipper as we know it is a golden sandal, then it is illustrated as just that), but she incorporates the name of the country in her illustration, and has used folk art traditions of each of these countries as well. I don't claim to be an artist by any means, but I was impressed with the way this books was done--how much research and authenticity must have gone into both the writing and the artwork. This book is definitely a teaching tool and a work to enjoy.
Pinkalicious by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann
Super great story for Princess A! It included all the girl-y, frilly, princess-y features needed to please an aspiring little girl of imaginative royalty! I swear this book could have been about my own daughter. . .a very creative story, a very real problem to solve, very creative solution, very colourful and exciting pictures, and just plain cute! I can't wait to read the "purple" version story by the same authors. . .and any others that are out.

Babies: All You Need To Know by Deborah Helligman; illustrated by Lauren Freeman
With a baby is the house, I thought this would be a great little book to read with the kids. . .and it was. This books is a National Geographic book (much to the humor of my husband!) and pretty much summarizes everything tasteful about a baby that a sibling should know. I was quite impressed with it and with the pictures. In the back, there are also a few pages about how those reading or listening to the story can be a baby-scientist. E LOVED that part. . .getting paper and pencil and making some observations. . .very good connection to real part of learning. I'm assuming there are other topics of this kind of book, and I would recommend them as a choice of literature when beginning science experiments in school. Lots of information, lots of things to observe.

1 2 3 I Can Make Prints by Ireme Luxbacher
This is a great books for any age level. . .it tells you about doing art projects using prints. It begins with easy projects and moved on to harder ones, and then ends with an art project that incorporates each kind of print-making taught in the book. What I liked about this book, too, is that it had a bunch of "art words" (vocabulary) used in art projects and clearly explained what they meant. Not knowing the words or terms didn't stop you from making a project, but allowed you to use the words in making it. The illustrations were bright, exciting and made E and A want to start an art project immediately.
Again, I didn't check at the time, but if there are more to this "set", these would be great books to accompany any art curriculum--lots of new info for younger students; lots of good review and easy reading for older students. In the case of older students, this book could easily accompany a station or centre activity (which there are not a lot of resources on) or an enrichment/work finished type of activity. Good for checking for following directions, understanding what was read and making a final project!

Well, that is all for now. . .happy reading. . .

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday-Potato Soup

I figured it was about time I did one of these posts again. . .

Here is a Baked Potato Soup. If you know me at all, I'm not a big soup fan. It just reminds me too much of. . .well, I won't get into it. But one day at Red Robins (of all places) I decided to order the Baked Potato Soup. I loved it. At a local bar and grill I ordered the same thing. . .loved it. So, then I decided I needed to find a recipe that I loved. . .and that was close to these ones that I loved so much!

This is what I came up with. . .it's based on a Best of Bridge recipe, I think. . .but that was so long ago, that it has been changed somewhat by my own tastes!

Here is my recipe:
4-8 large potatoes--depending on how many extras you have. . .what do you do with one potato in the pantry?
1/2 c. celery, diced. Only, we don't like celery, so I add it if I have it. I do always add 1/2 cup of carrots and corn.
1/2 c. onion, diced
1-1/2 or 2 c. water
4 chicken boullion cubes (or left over packets from those noodle soups)
1/2 t. salt
2 c. milk (or more, depending on how thin or thick you like your soup)
1 T. flour
2 c. sour cream
parsley or green onions
other baked potato toppings

*Peel potatoes, dice potatoes and put them in a large pot. Add other vegetables, onion, water, boullion cubes and salt. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes).

*Remove from stove and mix with an electric mixer until the mixture is a smooth paste. Or--the way I prefer it--use a potato masher in the pan until it is a bit chunky. Add 1 cup of milk and heat again. In a medium bowl, blend he sour cream with the flour. Stir in 1 cup of milk. Slowly add this too the soup mixture a bit at a time. Heat and stir until thickened. If it is too thick for your liking, add a bit more milk. Also, if you are a spices-kind-of-person, you can add more salt, pepper, parsley--whatever you want or whatever might make you happy at this point.
Serve. . .Top with your typical baked potato toppings. For us, we like cheese, sour cream, green onions, bacon, peppers. . .) Serve with garlic bread or a salad. This serves about 6.

I often double the recipe so I have a meal or two for the freezer. I thaw it in the fridge and then heat it up for a quick supper. Because of the sour cream and milk in it, when you are warming it up, be sure to stir it well and often and have milk handy to thin it and make the texture all good again!
Visit Blessed With Grace for more Tempting Tuesday Treats!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Menu Plan . . . Monday?

Late as always!

From last week. . .

Monday (CP)- Easy BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, buns, corn on the cob

This recipe is super easy and super good. I used a maple syrup BBQ sauce this time, added a few onions and peppers, and voila--a great meal!


Wednesday-corn fritters, sausage, grilled veggies

Thursday-Hamburger Helper (sorry--I have three kids--two kids and one BIG kid-who love it, so we gotta have it every now and then!), beans (from the garden!)


Saturday-hamburgers again! corn and french fries

Sunday (BFS)-Pancakes, eggs and ham

And this week. . .

Monday(CP)-Teriyaki chicken wings, mashed potatoes and corn

The wings were pretty amazing! I just wanted an easy to make, non-scouring-the pan-after-kind-of recipe, and found the perfect one! Just be careful not to "over-crock" them. . .otherwise the meat falls of the bone and defeats the purpose of eating wings.

Tuesday-Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake, Harvest Potatoes, veggies and dip

This recipe was a try on the whim as I has left-over ham from Sunday and wanted to make a chicken thing. I think the real cordon bleu deals are too much works, so I decided to check if this would be a good replacement. . .and it was. I changed the recipe slightly--I may have added a tablespoon or so of onions and I didn't do the whole croutons on top, but a breadcrumb and butter mixture (1 Cup of crumbs to 2 T butter) instead. Then sprinkled with a bit of Parmesan. We loved it. . . you might too.

I don't recommend having it along with the Harvest Potatoes--two "cheese casseroles" is a little heavy and overkill. For us it was more the convenience of it as I had an hour to make and prepare supper as I had company over before supper and just wanted something that would be ready. (Would have been a good CP night, but . . .then I would have had to have a clear menu plan. . .and with the late post, obviously I don't!)

Wednesday- left-overs or sub sandwiches

Thursday-Spaghetti, garlic toast, salad (from the garden!)



Sunday (BFS)-french toast casserole, breakfast sausage

Not a lot of excitement here. . just eating out lives away. . .

For more MPM, visit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pillow Covers

I'm finally finding time to sew again!
I'm finally getting around to making these things! I bought the material a bit after little A was born. . .and it took me about about 3 1/2 months to finally have time and energy to make these simple pillow covers.

We have these big, big, big pillows in out playroom, but they are quite multi-coloured with a very loud print. I'm not a big fan, so I found some soft flannel that would match the walls. Because of the lack of floor space, I had to do some measuring for it all on beds!
See the ugly pillows? See the new material, cut out now, but not sewed. . .
The "pattern" I used was REALLY easy--all just measuring! Imagine a duvet cover. . .pretty much the same thing. After measuring the fabric to fit the pillows, I just sewed a simple square (sewed three sides) with one side open. On that open side, I sewed in about 3 inches on both sides, then attached Velcro to the opening part. Of course, it has been so long since I have sewed, and lack of sleep does wonders for your brain, that I first attached the Velcro to the wrong side (ie: the Velcro was on the outside of the pillow, not the inside so that it would close nicely and stay hidden!). After taking that all apart and attaching it correctly. . .
They are finally done! What a simple, simple project that took, like, a whole week to do from start to finish! (With only short blocks of sewing time in the evenings IF the baby is happy. . .not so much for sewing time!) But I LOVE the way they match the playroom walls, and the kids love the "softness" of it compared to the old ones!
See the Velcro closings? Now I can take them apart to wash when needed. . .
Simple, and finally done!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Airplanes, Part 2

I guess I am a glutton for punishment. . .or I just love making my kiddos happy!
We went to the airshow again. . .although this time it was along with all those other airshow attenders who didn't want to pay the carload price but wanted to share the side of the road with us! And I might have to add, this wasn't a bad view!
Opa found the "exact same place" as they had last year (according to E--he knew exactly when to tell Opa to stop the van! How do kids remember these things?), we pulled out the lawn chairs and snacks, and enjoyed the sunshine waiting for some of the acts to appear.

Last year E had a toy military airplane to play with. Since then it lost a few wheels. . .and it magically got "lost." Hubby went out the night before--after his long day at the show--to find new airplanes for the kiddos. That is a tough job during the week of an airshow I guess, and he came home with the last one in the store. So. . .I looked through my collection of "My Little Ponies" saved up to give Princess A as gifts and found one with wings. . .that is close enough to a flying aircraft, right? It turned out these little surprises were just perfect for both of them and kept them busy as we watched!
At first this was all we saw. . .far in the distance (right overhead of my hubby, though). See those specks above the treeline, below the mountain line? Those are the Harvard Mk IVs I believe.

We brought along binoculars to check them all out a little better. It was neat when the Skyhawks (parachuters) came out--you could see their faces and hand signals/directions!

In between the sky acts. . .way too much fun! Apparently E had the "Golden Eagle" who got away, and Princess A was just following in the fun with "Star-fly-er".
A little closer. . .
But then came the Snowbirds. . .and those were right on top of us! We could even see the pilots. . . of course I don't have any pictures of that. . .I'm not that great of a picture-taker! And they were loud! There was one point when we were so busy watching what the bunch in front of us were doing that we didn't even notice the two zooming in from behind us until they were right on top of us. . .and LOUD!

E and A's favourite "heart" trick. . .
E and A had names for all the tricks. . .a mountain, a cross-over, a maple leaf. . .

All done until next year. . .

Saturday, August 14, 2010


On Friday we went out to the Abbotsford Airshow. We have been hearing all the noises of the air crafts and planes throughout the week, but now we were able to take a closer look at it all.

We spent most of our time at the "Static Displays," taking breaks in between to watch some of the performances in the sky. E loved it all--he was a little hesitant at first because everything was SO big compared to his toys, the pictures he had seen and what he remembered about seeing them in the sky last year. But soon enough he was running off to see all that there was to see. Princess A, on the other hand, spent most of her time in my arms. She liked seeing it all, but she wanted it all via the comfort of mom's arms!
We got some "ear protection" for the kids because it was loud for them. . .and man, did we collect loot! Everyone who saw the kids wanted to give them stickers, pencils, tattoos, etc. There were also lots of people around to explain what the planes and air crafts were used for and what their jobs were.
I got a few photos of some of the sky acts. . .however, this is the best I could do when my picture-taking was limited by a preschool child draped around me!

E and A were most impressed with the times that they made loop-de-loops and hearts in the sky. Here is the three of us in one of the air crafts--taking a break in the cool shade from the sun!
Here is us outside that same aircraft. . .see how teeny we are in comparison?
And here is a "fuller" picture of the same aircraft. Its amazing how these things can fly in the sky and all the things they can do!
E is being a pilot. He decided he didn't want to fly anywhere today because he had to learn a little bit before he could take off. {smile}
In a much smaller plane!

Here, I think, is the Lancaster and Eagle in the runway preparing to park for the afternoon. This is as close as I could get to them. My ears were ringing from the noise of it all!
The snowbirds lined up and getting ready to take off. . .
We had fun. . . my hubby was a little jealous because he couldn't get time off of work. However, he gets to be there the rest of the weekend as an emergency worker. He won't get to see all the stuff we did, but he'll have a great seat on the runway for the sky acts. (He may also be putting out a few grass fires as part of the war tank/bomber demonstrations).