Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flannel Board How To

While the rest of the country is preparing for the end of the school year we are just beefing up some activities for the girls to enjoy these next few months - but more on that later.  For now I wanted to get working on a flannel board so we can use some felt cutouts for our upcoming themes. Without further ado:

Materials: 24 x 30 Foam Board, and 30 x 34 Piece of Flannel in a solid color, hot glue gun.

Step 1: Center the foam board on the fabric. (You may want to iron the fabric if it is wrinkled).  Then glue the edges down making sure it is tight.

All done. Yep one step.

Add some felt cutouts and voila - a perfect learning toy.
Less than 10 minutes and less than 10 dollars later!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Meal Planning May 29th through June 4th

Well hello all!  Hope you are enjoying this beautiful new week and having a great Memorial Day.  I want to say a special thank you to all of our military men and women AND their families - thank you for all you do and the sacrifices you make you have one huge fan over here!  Now to our menu:

  • Cereal, Bananas, Peanut Butter on a Spoon
  • Breakfast Out - Thanks Mom and Dad!
  • Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Nectarines
  • Scrambled Eggs, Toast, Strawberries
  • Smoothies and Toast w/Peanut Butter
  • French Toast and Nectarines
  • Syrup Pancakes, Yogurt, Strawberries
  • Nada since we had a later brunch!
  • Sub Sandwiches, Chips
  • Pasta with Pesto (leftovers), Salad
  • Egg Salad Sandwiches, Strawberries, Crackers
  • Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Apple Slices, Cheese
  • Hot Dogs and Mac N Cheese
  • Tuna Sandwiches, Avocados, Wheat Thins
  • Out at a Wedding (Congrats Jeff and Kim)!
  • Chili's Beef Fajitas, Tortillas, Rice
  • Italian Sausage Sandwiches
  • Chicken Stir Fry with Fried Rice
  • Lasagna Roll Ups - Recipe to Follow!
  • Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken, Rice, Peas
  • BBQ Chicken, Baked Beans, Salads

Friday, May 27, 2011

Theme Learning

Happy Friday all!  Just wanted to end the week with a new feature - every Friday I will be posting activities we have done in the previous week - all related to a theme.  This is our newest "home school" adventure as we dive into helping Little C and her possible speech delays.  We are striving to enhance her learning by repeating many common words and working on basic concepts such as colors, numbers, shapes, etc.  Big C will also be way involved and so far is loving the play based nature of this schooling!  So without further ado our first theme: Bears.

We started the week by reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Then we reenacted the story too many times to count...seriously more than 20 times.  We had different sized bowls, spoons, Tupperware, they used different sized pillows for beds and we all took turns playing different characters (we actually played this everyday for the whole week).  So fun!

Another day we had a teddy bear picnic and the girls got to eat lunch with a whole lot of teddy bears.  We read the story Teddy Bears' PicnicChildren's Bear Books) and sang a song.

I also made three bears of differing sizes for the the girls to 1. order by size and 2. reenact the stories again.  Alas Mama Bear is missing and we can't find her - the girls loved these guys and played with them all week so it is no surprise that one of them went missing (I am guessing it is under Little C's bed as she had been trying to take them to sleep with her - gotta check there tomorrow).

Then we made...Bear Bread.  This was a nice project as Big C had an awesome time measuring and mixing ingredients.  They both helped me knead the dough and then they each got to shape the bears.  Lets just say the one on the left is Little Cs "bear" the middle one is Big C's (its sleeping under a blanket but has eyes, a nose, and a mouth) and Mommy's is on the right.  The bread didn't taste great but it was an awesome activity either way.

Most of these activities came from ideas in the book: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Theme Activities for Children 2 to 5: Over 600 Favorite Activities Created by Teachers for TeachersChild Care Books).  This book is AWESOME it has hundreds of activities based upon different themes and also sorts them based upon skill such as gross motor versus speech versus math.  There are several more in the series and I am determined to buy them all!

Next week we are going to work on a "Garden" theme!

Happy Learning,

Ash of All Trades

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Garden Update

1/2 Pound Artichoke

.0078 lbs of Chives

.148 lbs of Kale

.703 lbs of Kale

.391 lbs of Romaine Lettuce

.0078 lbs of Sage

.03125 lbs of Snap Peas

.0234 lbs of Strawberries

.32 lbs of mixed veggies.

Total Weight: 2.135 lbs of Vegetables!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet

This book was given to me as a gift and let's just say the title and cover both scream "Ashlee Book" - very loudly.  Add in the fact that this story is about a Japanese American shortly after the pearl harbor attacks but told by the male in the love story and I was completely sold.  Honestly I read this one in three days and it only took me that long because well I have two kids and a husband that take up my time!  The masculine narration was very well written and maybe a bit too mushy for what a guy would really say but I enjoyed it because it's what I often imagine guys would be like if they didn't try to act all MACHO.  The formatting of the book was especially well written going from present day to past history in a well transitioned method.  While I think Lisa See's books are still my favorites this is one book I will give two thumbs up!  (PS Lisa See has a new book
coming out soon)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What good reads have you been enjoying?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tortilla Soup One step At a Time

Here is our favorite tortilla soup recipe - although we never make it exactly the same every time.  We love the thick base and veggies!

 Step 1: Our Secret Ingredient - Cut 2 Corn Tortillas (or 1 flour tortilla) into pieces.

Step 2: Chop Half of an Onion and 2 Cloves Garlic.

Step 3: Saute Garlic and Onion In Olive Oil in Dutch Oven or Large Pot
Stirring Frequently

Step 4: Get ready for next step when garlic and onions are soft and brown.

Step 5: Add 1/2 tsp Cumin and 1 tsp Chili Powder, Stir

Step 6: Add one can diced tomatoes and stir.

Step 7: Add 2 Cups Chicken Broth, 1 cup Water, Cut Tortillas, Stir
Bring to a boil then simmer 10 minutes.

Step 8: Using a stick blender - process the soup mixture until smooth.

Step 9:  Add one can re fried beans, 1 cup of frozen veggies (corn bell peppers,
zucchini, etc) and 1 cup cooked diced chicken.
Step 10: Spoon into bowls and garnish with cheese, cilantro, and tortilla chips.

Makes 6-8 Servings.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meal Plan May 22nd through May 28th

Happy Monday all...sorry for the delayed post this week but we had a fun jam packed weekend and I wasn't able to get in my normal blogging time!  Here are the meals we plan to eat this week!


  • Chocolate Chip Pancakes (of course!)
  • English Muffins, Eggs, Peaches
  • Cereal, Kiwi, Peanut Butter
  • Granola Bars, Apple Slices, Milk
  • Waffles, Bacon, Pears
  • French Toast and Peaches
  • Breakfast Burritos and Canned Fruit
  • Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Leftovers, Baby Oranges, Cheese
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Carrots w/Ranch
  • Egg Salad Sandwiches, Carrots, Apple Slices
  • Quesadillas, Tortilla Soup, Peaches
  • Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Pears
  • Bean and Cheese Burritos, Snap Peas
  • Hot Dogs, Crackers, Carrots
  • Pepper Steak Sandwiches w/bell peppers, Baked Beans, Salad
  • Spaghetti With Meat Sauce, Garlic Bread, Salad
  • Sticky Lime Chicken, Squash & Zucchini, Herb Roasted Potatoes
  • Chicken Taquitos, Beans, Corn
  • Italian Sub Sandwiches (meatball style but with sausage), Peas
  • Relatives Confirmation Dinner!
That's what we are eating folks - how about you?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Garden Update

Homegrown Chives @ a Whopping .008 Pounds

Sage and Snap Peas - What a Delight!
(More on them later)

.406 Lbs of Romaine Lettuce - Yum!

Ahh yes Fresh Sage @ .023 Lbs

Sugar Snap Peas - I am soooo excited for these little guys - a delicious afternoon snack!

.055 lbs of Snap Peas!

Little Strawberry # 1

Little Strawberry #2

We also picked three or four leaves of kale and some fresh thyme but hurriedly threw them into our meal rather than photographing them!

The food scale I use is from hereand we LOVE it.  I buy meat in bulk and weigh it out into meal sized portions, measure herbs and spices, and of course do our garden updates with it!

So a total of .492 lbs of weighed produce this week!

Our plants are really starting to fill in with little zucchinis and squashes outside, many more snap peas, tons of kale (of course), tomatoes the size of cadbury eggs, yes it is turning into heaven!

What's everyone else growing right now?

Ash of All Trades

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Canvas Art

Hope this week is treating you all well - I know I am thrilled to have a huge project done!  The canvas art for Big C's Room!  These were a lot of fun and a lot of work - while they didn't come out looking "professional" I do feel that they turned out awesome - considering I am not artsy (craftsy yes artsy no) and have NEVER EVER painted anything before! 

So we started with four 20" x 20" canvases from Michaels (they were 40% off and only cost $29 total!) you can also get them on Amazon.com (Art Alternatives Original Cotton Stretched Studio Canvas -)

To paint them a solid color I just poured paint all over then used foam brushes to even it out!  We just used the big bottles of Acrylic Paint like this.

A couple of finished ones - we thankfully had a huge box left over from our new shed!  Kept the mess to a minimum and kind of kept it out of the kids way!

Now these are in no way free handed - we used a projector and computer printouts to draw the outline then filled them in with the same acrylic paint we used for the background.  This is one of the completed canvases - the flowers were the easiest since in person they look great with a little background color showing through so they didn't need three coats!

And here they are hung!  Adorable and now her ginormous empty wall is filled! 
A whole wall of art for less than $40!

Happy Painting,

Ash of All Trades