Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Decorating

I have about a billion blog posts to catch up on but I figured this one couldn't and shouldn't wait!

A few weeks ago we visited a pumpkin patch. Jaden is STILL talking about it. We've also been reading some books about pumpkins. So, finally we got around to decorating ours.

I was planning on cooking the larger one and making fresh pumpkin puree to bake with....but Jaden had other ideas. From the minute I mentioned decorating our pumpkins he started talking about cutting off the top and making a scary face! SO, we just had to DO IT.

Cutting the top off Are you ready to scoop out the insides? Umm....okay!
He put his hand right in, but wasn't so impressed with the goopy-ness of it all!

Let's try it with a spoon!


there's MORE in there?!?!?!?
Getting ready to draw the face - but first Jaden had to put the pencil behind his ear so he could be "Handy Manny"

Mommy's attempt at drawing the "Scary, Silly, Happy" face that Jaden said he wanted the pumpkin to have.
Luz stepped in with some superior artistic skills. Per Jaden's request - Circle eyes, triangle nose, and a mouth with three teeth

As Luz was carving Jaden started getting crazy...
....so we started on the next project - painting the little pumpkins. I have noticed at the library and a few other places that Jaden LOVES painting but I've been a bit timid to do it at home because I didn't want to clean up a huge mess. Turns out he's a very neat artist! We tried having a different brush for each color, and that lasted a little while. But, eventually they all got a bit mixed together.
What cute pumpkins!

Cheese! This one is MINE!
Turns out Tempera paint doesn't really stay on pumpkins.....Later this evening after they were dry Jaden rubbed most of the paint off of his. Now THAT was a bigger mess than the painting in the first place! I guess maybe we'll have to paint the pumpkin again! ;-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fun with Beans

Some days you just need a really simple and REALLY fast to organize activity.

This day Jaden was super interested in scooping things with his diggers and Muck (his new best friend - depending on the day).

So, I grabbed a cupful of dried beans, a cookie sheet, and a few small bowls.
He sure had fun scooping, moving, and dumping those "rocks!"

Playing Hostess

I attend a weekly Bible Study that meets in people's homes. One week I offered to host and then realized that 16 people in one room in my house would be a bit impossible!

So, we met in the library at the mission's campus.

It was a good excuse for me to make some yummy treats though!
And have fun decorating a table for fall!
follow the links for the recipes for cake truffles and individual cheesecakes
mmmm.....GOOD fruit!
The $1 tablecloth and $1 package of silk fall leaves made for pretty decorations!

Individual Cheesecakes

These are really easy and SUPER yummy!!!!

The Recipe

2 8 oz. package cream cheese softened

¾ c. sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbs. lemon juice

2 tsp. almond flavoring

1 box vanilla wafers

1 can cherry pie filling (I made mine with raspberry because we like it better! The cherries look a little cuter on the top, but the raspberry is SO good!!!)

Beat together until light and fluffy. Place one cookie in cupcake, cover with mixture ¾ full. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. Cool, top each with 1 Tbs. cherry pie filling.

Makes 18-24.

Cake Balls......Ummm...Truffles

So, I heard about such a thing as cake balls from Bakerella

Then, my cousin made some and I tasted them.

Then, my cousin claimed that they really were very easy.

So, I had an excuse to make a special treat and decided to try it out.

They were a HUGE hit - everyone that tasted them LOVED them, and thought that I must have purchased them at a store because, yes, they were pretty darn cute.
But, when they ask you what they are, and you have to say "cake balls"....ISH.
I have decided to rename them....

Caution - they are VERY rich. I prefer to eat them cold. Somehow they aren't so overwhelmingly sweet that way.

HOW TO: (simplest version imaginable)
1. Bake a box cake mix in a 9x13 pan
2. Cool cake
3. Crumble up the cake (a bit distressing after working so hard on previous cake projects to get a piece that actually stays together nicely for decorating!)
4. Stir in a can of frosting.
5. Cool mixture in refrigerator
6. Make into balls (I used a small cookie scoop to keep a more even measurement).
7. Chill balls in freezer (or fridge)
8. Dip in melted candy coating.
9. Optional - Mine looked lumpy and kind of weird so we splattered them with the opposite color candy coating and they suddenly looked very cute.

Really, the hardest part was the dipping. I found that the colder the balls and the warmer the candy coating the easier it was to be quick.
I tried using spoons to maneuver the balls and it didn't work.
Then I tried skewers. This worked most of the time but occasionally I had one fall apart on me. Funny thing about that is, many of my cake balls had a candy coating stripe into the center too!

I used a Cherry Chip cake mix and White frosting. The ones my cousin made were Funfetti cake and frosting. I read about a red velvet with cream cheese frosting. All of these sound FABULOUS.

I hear you can easily sub in your favorite cake/frosting recipe if you prefer from-scratch cakes. I'm thinking my FAVORITE homemade coconut cake and frosting with a dark chocolate shell would be DIVINE. But....that sounds like a lot of work!

THE BOTTOM LINE - I would make these again for a special occasion - but only if I had a guaranteed babysitter or a helper for the dipping stage!


Grandma K sent Jaden a cool new grill, just for fun! He had a GREAT time grilling the hot dogs and hamburgers! In the winter this one may just have to come inside with us!I think I may have a budding chef on my hands!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Straw Sorting - Gone Wild

My sister in law and I found a book of great ideas of activities for preschoolers and we made up some project bags for our kids. I have yet to TOTALLY LOVE them, so maybe I'll post a review after we get through some more of them. Really, Jaden is too young for many of them still. I few more critical thinking skills and some letter knowledge and he'll be on a roll with them I'm sure.


In one of the bags we placed 100 straws and 50 paper clips - supposedly to build towers with. I'm not a preschooler - and I can't figure out how to do that yet. BUT, Jaden LOVES playing with the straws!

I decided to turn it into a sorting activity by color (see how I put one of each colored straw in each cup?)
Of course, that wasn't as fun. And, even moving them in and out of the cups wasn't NEARLY as fun as....
...throwing them all over the floor and pretending they are "logs" his "machines" have to build things with!

Hey, quite a mess - but for just being straws, they can keep him entertained for upwards of 30 minutes at times!

Not too bad if I say so myself!

My Little Apple - Art Project

I got this idea from a Montessori preschool teacher's blog.

I set out strips of red construction paper, a small bowl with glue, a small paintbrush, and a white paper plate.

The first step was to tear the red paper strips into little pieces. (This was Jaden's favorite part!)
Then you paint a little glue onto the piece of red paper.

and stick it on the plate!
This activity did last awhile but, we didn't get around to finishing! The plate only got about 1/5 full of red and Jaden lost interest when it came to gluing on a stem and leaf.
But, I still rate this activity a hit.

I'm discovering Jaden really likes art projects - but he does NOT like to get messy. He didn't like that sometimes he would get glue on his fingers if after painting it on the red paper. I showed him how to paint the glue onto the plate and put the red pieces down - but he wasn't too big of a fan of that either. I didn't want to just give him the whole bottle of glue beca
use I still remember glue lakes from MY days in Elementary school! The Montessori blog I got this idea from recommends these tap-and-glue bottle tops. I'm going to check into getting something like that.

Materials Needed:
- strips of red construction paper
- glue
- paper plate
- green leaf and brown stem from construction paper to finish
- a method of getting the glue onto the paper (bottle or brush and bowl)

Followed by an apple for a snack!

The Evolution of the Sandbox tent

Leave it to Daddy to figure out a way to play in the sandbox even when the sun is hot!
The first attempt was a hit.

The second attempt has made the sandbox a new favorite play place again.
Of course, we have to remember to take it down if it might get too windy (which sometimes means heading outside at 1am if we hear it flapping around!)
But, now that days are cooler, we can play in the sandbox even when the sun is out and strong!
Yea for sandbox fun!