Saturday, October 31, 2009

Maple Leaf Hand Pies

I don't know if it was looking at our still bare turkey tree all day, or the fact we raked up all but the last few straggling leaves, from our trees this weekend, but when it came to making dessert tonight, I just couldn't resist adding a few leaves to the table.

The leaf shapes were cut with a cookie cutter, from store bought pie dough, filled with apple pie filling, and then sealed with a fork.

They were transferred to a greased cookie sheet, brushed with egg white, and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

Finally, they were baked for 10 minutes, at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

I think they might have looked a little prettier without the cinnamon, and sugar, but they tasted great, and it wasn't long before the plate was as bare as the trees outside.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Advent Calendar From Recycled Paper Bags - A Turkey Tree

We went to the store today and discovered, that Charlie Brown's little sister, Sally, was right. The Christmas decorations are already up, and there's not a turkey tree to be found. So, we decided to make our own, out of one of the grocery bags we came home with.

There aren't any turkeys on it yet of course, but we're working on them too - 26 of them to be exact.

Our plan is to pick a turkey each day in November, until Thanksgiving, write something we're thankful for on it, and tape it to the tree.

By Thanksgiving Day, we should have a tree full of thankful turkeys, and a new Thanksgiving tradition firmly in place.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homemade Face Paint for stART (Goldilocks Has Chicken Pox)

For stART, a story + art project, that we'll link to A Mommy's Adventures blog this week, we read the book, Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox by Erin Dealey. Our book choice was due to the fact, that the one year old we watch during the week, currently has chicken pox.

Our art project was an extremely simple one. I made up a batch of homemade face paint, and let the children paint themselves some chicken pox over breakfast. Happily, our chicken pox will wash away in the bath - unlike the real thing, which our poor itchy little visitor will have to endure for a while longer.

Homemade Face Paint

  • 1 part cold cream

  • 2 parts corn starch

  • add water to desired texture

  • add food coloring to desired color

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Squashed Spider Pumpkin Snack

We've been inspired by all the spider cupcakes around lately. But in our house, we prefer spiders to be squashed. So, we made our spider bodies out of pudding, instead of cupcakes - for that flattened look.

Other than that, they're pretty much the same as the cupcakes, with licorice legs (black licorice would probably look more like spider legs, but we prefer the taste of red)...

...chocolate sprinkles, for the hairy tarantula look...

...and buggy marshmallow, and M&M eyes.


Crayon Melt Candy Corn - Preschool Craft

The little ones wanted to do another crayon melt craft today, so we made some glowing candy corn to hang in the window.

Just as with our fall tree crayon melt, they used a pencil sharpener to gather crayon shavings. But this time, they let the shavings fall onto separate pieces of white paper, so the colors would not mix together.

Then, they arranged them in candy corn patterned stripes, on a piece of wax paper (I would imagine freezer paper would work too, as long as the waxy side faced in, but I've never tried it), that I had set out for them, on top of an old towel.

I helped them cover the crayon with another sheet of wax paper, and another old towel, before ironing it with a hot iron. The old towels are important, because the crayon will bleed through - I ruined a perfectly good ironing board pad, with the first crayon melt we did, when my older children were preschoolers.

I folded two pieces of black construction paper in half together, and drew half a candy corn shape on the folded edge, for the girls to cut. They cut through both pieces of paper at the same time.

I trimmed the wax paper, and melted crayon to fit, and the girls glued it between the two sheets of construction paper.

We hung one, as it was, and trimmed the other, so that it just had an outline of black around the candy corn. I'm really not sure which I like better, they both look quite festive, and fallish on the windows.

A couple of tips:
  • It's easier for little ones to "sharpen" the wide, flat end of a crayon, than the pointed end. As the crayons become pointed, they can be broken in half, and sharped from the new flat ends.

  • We didn't use quite enough yellow on the bottom of ours, so it mixed in almost completely with the orange, a wider stripe of yellow would have made a more striking candy corn.

  • Don't forget to keep a close eye on the iron - unplug it, and move it to a safe spot, as soon as you're done with the ironing step, to keep it out of reach of little hands.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mini Candy Corn Inspired Frozen Pudding Pops

What do you do when you have:
  • six children looking for a fun fall snack

  • 1/2 a box of vanilla pudding mix (we used the first half to make pumpkin ice cream)

  • a smidge (lets say 1/2 of cup) of whipped cream

  • 1 cup of milk

  • and a few drops of yellow and red food coloring?

Well, I don't know about you, but I would mix the pudding, milk and whipped cream. Divide it into three bowls, coloring one bowl with red and yellow to make orange, and one with just yellow.

Layer them into tiny cups (we used cleaned out communion cups, but recycled medicine cups might work too, or Dixie cups, if you don't mind going a little larger).

Stick a tooth pick, or half a sucker stick into each one, and place them in the freezer for an hour or so.

Once frozen, run hot water over the outside of the cups, pull out the candy corn inspired treats, and give them to the happy children to enjoy. Then send them all off to nap, and eat the left overs!

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Potato Pumpkin Posers - Homemade Pumpkin Shaped Potato Chips

The Unplugged Project theme for this week is change, so we decided to change our regular homemade potato chips for fall.

We peeled a couple of potatoes, and notched them on top, so they looked kind of like elongated pumpkins. The knife work was too hazardous for little hands, so I did the cutting.

Then, I sliced them into thin slices, and we brushed them with olive oil mixed with a couple of dashes of turmeric. Turmeric is a nice mild spice, which is perfect, because we really wanted it more for color, than for flavor. We also added a pinch of tarragon to the stems, to give them a hint of green.

We baked them on a cookie sheet for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, turned them over, and baked them for an additional 12 minutes. Then, I pulled them from the oven, and gave them a couple quick dashes of salt, and served them up to the kids.

They didn't last long - proving, that sometimes change is good.

Check out the other Unplugged Projects this week, at Unplug Your Kids.

It's great to be homeschooler.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Personalized Knit Christmas Ornaments For the Children - Keepsakes on a Budget

Every Christmas, from our oldest son's first on, we have bought each of the children a special keepsake ornament to go on the tree. We go through the ornaments, one at a time, from oldest to youngest, as we hang them on the tree, letting them remind us of the past years, as we put them up. It's a fun tradition, but one that became quite expensive, as our family increased in size.

Last year, while doing a little belt tightening, in response to the economic downturn, I decided to make the children's ornaments instead of buying them. I worried a bit that they might look flimsy, or cheap next to the store bought decorations, but they ended up being some of our favorites, and so we decided to tweak our tradition. Instead of buying the keepsakes, we (meaning I) would make them.

Of course, that means making a new set of ornaments each year (last year I used a gingerbread theme), something that will be unique to each child, and help us to remember who they are that particular year. So, I was very happy to note the knit pattern for Christmas Tree Bears, at Little Cotton Rabbits, when I was searching out a pattern for the tiny knit bears the children used for our hibernation craft earlier this fall.

While most of the children have outgrown teddy bear ornaments, for the moment, the pattern looked like it could be modified fairly simply with a change of yarn color, and the addition of a few small details, like bits of yarn for hair and shoes, into... angel ballerina, for my middle daughter, who has that role in the community performance of the Nutcracker this year... youngest daughter, with her bangs continually in her eyes, and wearing her favorite color - purple...

...or, my youngest son, in the yellow, and white striped shirt he outgrew during the summer, but refuses to stop wearing.

I'm not completely happy with the face on the last one yet, and I need to add some shoes. Then, I'll have three more to make, including two more ballerinas, and one for a no nonsense, "I'm not interested in anything" twelve year old. But, so far, it looks like we'll be able to keep up with our keepsake tradition, without breaking the bank.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Gingerbread French Toast

I found the yummiest recipe for pumpkin gingerbread this week, at There Is No Place Like Home (click, here, to go to the recipe page). Someone mentioned in the comments, that they turned theirs into french toast - that sounded like something we had to try.

I made a batch of the gingerbread, dividing it into two round cake pans, to eat right away, and one 9'' x 13'' cake pan, to use for french toast.

I cut it into gingerbread men shapes with a cookie cutter, scooping out the extra gingerbread from around the little men, until I could lift them out of the pan.

Then, I cut them in half, so they wouldn't be too thick, and left them to dry out, on a plate, for about 24 hours.

From there, I prepared them just like normal french toast, though I did add a splash of vanilla, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the egg and flour batter I used.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
And, I only gave them a quick dip, instead of a long soak, in the batter, so they wouldn't get too mushy.

After browning them in the pan, I sprinkled them with powdered sugar, and served them with maple syrup, and a few banana slices, for good measure. They'd probably also be good with whipped cream, and maybe a caramel drizzle - but I could be getting carried away. We actually went out for a good brisk walk after we ate them. There aren't too many things that can top a walk in the crisp fall air, with the taste of gingerbread, and pumpkin still lingering in your mouth.

It's great to be a homeschooler.