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Monday, March 2, 2015

Dr. Seuss Treats

Today is Dr. Seuss's birthday. David had snack day, so we made some treats that matched a couple of his books. We made green eggs and ham with two pretzel sticks, a little bit of white chocolate melted on the sticks. Then I added a green sixlet candy to the chocolate. 
The Lorax guys are made from a Nutter Butter cookie. I added candy eyes (to make them stick, I used some of the melted white chocolate leftovers from the pretzels.) Then I added a yellow frosting mustache. 

For dinner, we had pancakes that were turned into the Cat in the Hat hat. I used Redi-whip and strawberries to add the accents to the pancake. 
Basic pancake recipe: 
1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons softened or melted butter. 
Whisk together and pour in a heated skillet. 

Only one of the kids wanted to have the green eggs. I just scambled some eggs with a little green food gel. 


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Photo Board

I found a picture of something like this on Pinterest, so I decided to make my own. We usually celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2nd, so I thought this would be a fun addition. We will also be sharing this with David's kindergarten class. 

I bought a presentation board at Walmart for under $3. I cut two circles out of the middle. I just did this with scissors because I couldn't find our exacto knife. The scissors worked fine. Then I drew on the design with a pencil. It is just freehand, so there are definitely some issues! 


I outlined everything with black Sharpie. Then I colored in the rest with black, red, and blue Sharpie. I wrote the line, "I can read in red. I can read in blue. I can read in pickle color too." (Taken from a Dr. Seuss book.) The kids had a lot of fun trying out the photo board. 



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow Day Scavenger Hunt of Activities

 I couldn't resist making another hunt for the kids after seeing their reaction from the Valentine's Day scavenger hunt. (And because Rachel continue to put the clues back in their spot and pretend to find them again!) So, when we got early notice of a snow day tomorrow, this was a perfect opportunity to make some new clues for them to fill our day. 

I will place the new clues where the last activity takes place. 

Here they are...

1. Hip, Hip, Hooray, we have a snow day! Your first clue is by your silly spray! (They have been patiently waiting to spray it all over each other :) ) 

2. Rachel will probably want to watch Sophia and the dancing trolls, but let's start our day with cinnamon rolls! 

3. Spend some time doing a little grammar and math. When 30 minutes are done, your clue can be found where you take a bath. 

4. It's now time to pick out a craft on Pinterest. Make sure it appeals to all of your interests. 

5. While the oven is still on, and after you remember to feed Fred, let's go to the kitchen and bake some bread! 

6. Go find some green or put on your suit. It's time for a photo shoot. 

7. Let's read a chapter from The Long Winter to help fill our day. Let's hope the groundhog was wrong and spring comes without delay! 


I just wrote these on some scrapbook paper.  Won't be as much fun as the prize hunt, but should help keep them active while we try to stay warm! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

#LoveTeaching Week

Last week was #Love Teaching Week...A week dedicated to showcasing the positives about teaching. The media does a great job showing many of the negatives that come along with teaching, but rarely highlights the reasons we went into this profession to start with.

Don't get me wrong, this career is difficult and definitely has its challenges. There have been times in my ten years of teaching that I have questioned my career choice and contemplated starting over in a new career. There have been many times that I have felt guilty about working outside of the home in a career that demands so much of my time at home too.  However, whenever I am having my doubts, something always happens to remind me that I am making a difference. 

For instance, as I thought about all the little things I could share for #LoveTeaching this week on social media, I realized that I can find something positive about my job every single day. 

I noticed, in this one-week time frame, that what really makes me love teaching the most is the connection I can make with these students on a daily basis. I can make a difference in their lives. Here is a list of some things that have happened in one week of teaching.

I love teaching because...

* After sharing a chapter from Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome, written by Brad Montague and Robby Novak, the kids in one of my classes were so moved by the message, they broke out into an applause. This reminded me that there are so many students out there that are moved by the idea to treat people more awesome. The line that ended the chapter was,  "Maybe our goal as people shouldn't be to become a celebrity, but to live in a way that makes everyone around us feel celebrated." If I can help these students understand that their actions make a difference and if I can show them that I celebrate them and believe in them, then I am doing the job I set out to do.

* A senior from the school I used to teach at contacted me to tell me that he got accepted at the college of his choice. Why did he contact me? Because he knew I would want to know. These moments in teaching are so important because it tells me that I have made a connection with a student. They know that I care about them and want them to succeed in life. 

* After school (on the last day of the school-week), two students came and asked me to take a picture with them. We were wearing the new shirts our group, Here 2 Make a Change (H2MC), had made. They are helping to spread a positive message throughout our school and community. To see students go out of their way to make a positive impact shows me that with a little reinforcement through me, these students feel comfortable about making a difference. 

* Over the weekend, I opened my email to find a letter written by a freshman in high school. This student took time out of her weekend to send me a message about the impact I have had on her and how much she respects me. It is times like these that make every negative thing about teaching just disappear. These moments keep teachers going for a very long time. 

* Last week, I went to my mailbox in the school office to find a hand-written note from a student facing something that could potentially keep him out of school for a long time. While reading this letter, tears filled my eyes. This student knew I saw potential in him and thanked me for believing in him; he was very sad to say that this letter might be his last good-bye.  This letter reminded me that my teaching can impact all students. Just showing students you believe in them, care about them, and want them to succeed will carry them through some of their toughest moments. 

* While reading a nonfiction piece about refugees, students in every one of my classes shared their concerns and talked about ways people throughout the world could offer help. These moments give me so much hope. High school students often get stereotyped as the "Me Generation". I see on a daily basis that there are so many students that just want to do something to help others, even if it doesn't get them anything. Not all students fit this stereotype...


These moments are just a few that stick out from the week. Like I said before, there is always something, every day, that reminds me why I love teaching.  And while I often bring stress from this job home with me, I honestly believe this profession has made me a better mom. If you are contemplating a career in teaching, know that there will be countless #LoveTeaching moments like this you will be able to reflect on at any point in your career. 

President's Day Craft with Puffy Paint

To start, I made some puffy paint. Puffy paint is just equal parts of shaving cream and school glue. For the brown paint, I added some brown tempera paint to the mixture. 

We cut out a blue hat for George Washington and a black hat for Abe Lincoln. Then we glued it on the paper plate.  We cut the sides of Lincoln's face so it looked longer. Then the kids drew on a face. The final step was to paint the puffy paint on the face. This was their favorite part because I let them use their hands for this step. 


President's Day Treats

I found pictures of these treats on Pinterest. I used a vanilla wafer as the head. I drew on a face with a food marker. Then I added some frosting to be used to stick the marshmallows and chocolate chips on the face. I cut a melting chocolate disc for the hat. 


Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt #3

We are all pretty excited about our 3rd Annual Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt. From the moment we turned the calendar to February, David has been counting down the days until this. It is something he remembers and reminds me about yearly. I am sure it will be the same for the St. Patrick's Day hunt. If you want to start a fun tradition with your kids, this is definitely memorable for them! 

I have to give credit to Steve for the clues. He is the poetic one in the family :) Everything pictured below came from the dollar store (except the books). I do have a larger prize waiting for them at the end of the hunt. Here are links to our other Valentine's Day hunts. 



The clues for this year: 

Clue #1: We are going to get started. You are going to be the champ. The first clue is under mom's lamp. 

Clue #2: Always have a very strong handshake. Your next clue is found on a topping for your pancake. 

Clue #3: Syrup is sweet and sticky like glue. Your next clue is found where you put on your shoe. 

Clue #4: Violets are blue, Roses are red. Your next clue is found by Fred (our fish). Could say bed instead.

Clue #5: You are almost done, and are smooth as silk. Your next clue is attached to your milk.

Clue #6: This is it. Your hunt is done. Go to your playhouse to find your fun. 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Paw Patrol Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Fondant


For Rachel's 3rd and a 1/2 birthday, she decided on a Paw Patrol cake. So I got adventurous, after using fondant for the first time last weekend, and made this look-out tower cake. I made a cake in a 10x12 inch cake pan. I used regular cake decorating frosting ( 1 cup crisco, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 4 Tbsp milk) for the green grass. I also used this frosting to cover the tower before I put on the fondant. 

I then made my own fondant. We all liked the taste of this fondant. 
Put one 16 oz  bag of mini marshmallows and 2 Tablespoons of water in a microwavable bowl. 
Melt in the microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 second time frame. 
Add 1 lb of powdered sugar and stir. Grease the counter and your hands with crisco. Knead another 3 cups of powdered sugar into this mixture. (I had 1 cup left of a 2 lb bag of powdered sugar.) 
Then I split the fondant up  for the amount of colors I needed and colored each ball with food gel. 
I put crisco around the ball of colored fondant and covered it with plastic wrap. I put it in an air-tight container until I was ready to make the cake. I did put the ball in the microwave for a few seconds before I made the cake. This softened it really quickly and made it easier to work with. 

The tower is made from Rice Krispie treats. I used a whole batch of Rice Krispies for the entire tower. (3 Tbsp butter, 6 cups marshmallows, 6 cups Rice Krispies)  I molded this free-hand and then covered it with the fondant colors. If you spray your hands with cooking spray, it is very easy to mold this into the pieces that make the tower. 

Tip: The top is pretty heavy. I put a small tupperware bowl in the cake, face down. Then I set the whole tower on top of that bowl. That helped support it a lot better. 

I found the Paw Patrol figures at Target. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day Pancakes

For these Groundhog Day pancakes, I started by making my baked pumpkin doughnut holes: http://workingmomwonders.blogspot.com/2013/10/baked-pumpkin-doughnut-holes.html

Next, I made chocolate chip pancakes: http://workingmomwonders.blogspot.com/2013/02/pancakes.html

Then I added Cheerio ears, frosting and mini chocolate chips for eyes, a red candy for a nose, and black gel for the mouth. 


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Superman 40th Birthday Cake with Homemade Fondant

When a friend of ours turned 40, I decided I would try to overcome my fear of fondant and make this cake for him. 

It turned out okay, and I learned a lot about fondant in the process! 

I know I don't like the taste of store-bought fondant, so I tried to make my own. I found this recipe for the black fondant: http://bakeyourfaceoff.blogspot.com/2011/03/black-marshmellow-fondant-badass-and.html

I altered it a little bit...

Ingredients: 
1 cup of black melting chocolate discs
1 bag mini marshmallows
3 Tbsp water
1 lb of powdered sugar plus 1 1/2 cups
1 tsp black food gel
Crisco

Put your marshmallows and water in a microwavable bowl. Heat for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat process for about 2 minutes total. 


Add the chocolate discs. Stir. Then add the black food gel. Stir. Add about half of the powdered sugar. Stir. Add the rest of the powdered sugar. Put Crisco on your hands and knead in the rest of the powdered sugar. 


Put Crisco around the dough ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate until ready to use. I did have to warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to soften it up before I used it. 


I worked in layers for this cake. I started by making the Superman shirt and then placed it on my cake. 


Then I added the white shirt. I rolled out the black fondant and placed that on top. Then the final touches were the white collar, the black buttons on the suit, and the red tie. I wrote the message on a piece of red fondant. 



Bubble Painting

We decided to give bubble painting a try today. It was a little messy, but the kids thought it was really cool! 

We mixed 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbsp paint, and 2 Tbsp dish soap in a little pie tin. A bowl would work fine too. 



Blow in the tin with a straw and watch the bubbles expand. We pulled the bubbles over our paper and let it dry.

 I did put some cardboard hearts on the paper to create more of a Valentine's Day image on it. 

Mini Corn Dogs

I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided we would make Corn "Pups" for the Puppy Bowl.: http://www.momontimeout.com/2013/08/easy-homemade-kid-friendly-mini-corn-dogs/

They turned out really well! I used peanut oil so they look a little darker than they would if you use vegetable oil, but I really like the flavor of the peanut oil. 

Ingredients: 
1/2 cup cornmeal
7 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp honey
hot dogs
oil for frying

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the egg, honey, and milk in a separate bowl and add it to the dry ingredients. Whisk until it is fully incorporated. I cut my hot dogs in half and put a wooden stick through them. 


Dip each hot dog in the batter and fry in oil that has been heated to 375 degrees. Mine cooked for about 2 minutes before they were fully cooked. 




Kid Friendly Super Bowl Treats

We came up with some Super Bowl treats the kids would eat (and they went together really quickly too). 

I made team color Jell-o. I cut it up into bite-size pieces and layered it with reddi-whip in a clear cup. 

We turned cheese and crackers into a football shape. The football is pepperonit with swiss cheese slices as the laces. 


I saw a lot of really cute stadium-style trays but my kids won't eat any of those dips, so we made a nacho stadium. I have taco meat in one endzone, cheese in the other, lettuce and tomato on the field, and scoops as thesidelines. 


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Football Player Rice Krispie Treats

David has snack day tomorrow, so he was very interested in bringing a treat with a Super Bowl theme in mind. We saw pictures of these treats on Pinterest (http://www.partypinching.com/parties-holidays/super-bowl-snack-stadium/) and decided to make our own for his classmates.

I made a double batch of rice krispies. (6 Tbsp butter, 2 bags of mini marshmallows, and 12 cups of rice krispies)

I filled a sheet cake pan with about 2/3 of the mixture. I put the remaining mixture in a smaller pan. I cut the large pan into 25 rectangles.

Then we dipped the bottom of each rectangle in melted dark blue chocolate discs. I used a spoon to cover the bottom half of each treat with the chocolate. We used white frosting to stick a vanilla wafer to the top half. I used an edible food writing pen to draw a face on the wafer. Then we used white frosting to write the numbers of some of the Seahawks players.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Quinoa Taco Bake

I was looking for some quinoa recipes and came across this one. (http://www.michellesfitlife.com/turkey-quinoa-taco-bake-recipe-made-to-fit-the-21-day-fix.php)
I made a few changes to fit what I had, but we all loved this one! I will definitely be making this again. 

Ingredients: 
1 20 oz package of turkey burger
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/4 onion, diced
2 small cans of tomato sauce
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 Tbsp lime juice
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup quinoa

Brown the turkey burger in a saucepan. Add the green pepper, onion, and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Stir. 

Next, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and 1 cup of shredded cheddar. Remove from heat.


Meanwhile, cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cooked quinoa to the burger/tomato mixture. Place in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Cover with about 1 1/2-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese. Place a piece of tin foil over the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for 10 more minutes. 




This is really good on its own, but I really enjoyed it in the middle of a tortilla shell. My husband ate some with tortilla chips as well. 

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

I pinned this recipe from the website: http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/09/stuffed-pepper-soup/ and decided to give it a try yesterday (with a few changes). I was really happy with how it turned out. 

Ingredients: 
1 lb turkey burger
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup broth (I used chicken because that was all I had)
1 Tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 can chili beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup brown rice 

Start by browning the turkey burger with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and some salt and pepper in a large pot. When the turkey is browned, remove it to a plate that is covered with paper towels. In the same pot, add the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil, onion, and green pepper. Let that saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic. Stir for about 30 seconds. Then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, and oregano. I added chili beans for added protein. 

Stir and let simmer 


When ready to serve, make your rice. Stir in some rice when you are ready to eat. Keep the rice and soup separate until just before eating. 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 Super Bowl Commercial Bingo Cards

Last year I made Commercial Bingo cards for the Super Bowl: http://workingmomwonders.blogspot.com/2014/01/2014-super-bowl-commercial-bingo-cards.html

The kids remembered playing and asked me if I was going to make more cards for this year. So, using the site: http://adage.com/article/special-report-super-bowl/super-bowl-xlix-ad-chart-buying-big-game-commercials/295841/, I came up with these cards. I did move the images around so we have six different cards. 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Homemade Candy Hearts (turned into sight word practice)

I made these candy hearts a few years ago, and everyone loved them. With edible food markers, it makes putting personal messages on them so easy. One batch makes a lot of hearts, so I turned half of them into sight words for David to practice. I made some of them into letter and number recognition practice for Rachel too. 

Ingredients: 

1 tsp unflavored Know gelatin 
1 tsp light Karo syrup
1/4 cup water
 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar (1 lb) (Plus extra for rolling out the dough)
essential oils or flavored extracts
food gel
food markers

Start by putting 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin, 1 tsp of light Karo syrup, and 1/4 cup of water in a bowl. Stir. Then put in the microwave for about 25 seconds. Stir again until the gelatin is dissolved. 


Place the gelatin mixture in a large bowl. Add one cup of powdered sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat until incorporated. Then slowly add the rest of the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. 


The mixture will be stiff after all the powdered sugar is added. 


Lightly coat a counter top with powdered sugar. Knead the dough until it is not sticky. I added probably 1/2 cup powdered sugar to the counter. Divide the dough into as many piles as you want colors/flavors. We did seven different colors. 

Put some food gel and flavoring on the dough ball. Food gel works so much better than food coloring. If you use food coloring, you have to add more powdered sugar because there is too much extra moisture from the coloring. I used essential oils to flavor four of my dough balls. I added 1-2 drops of oil. I did have some bubble gum, butterscotch, and watermelon extract that I added to three of the dough balls. For those, I added 1/8-1/4 tsp of extract. 
The oils I used were wild orange, grapefruit, peppermint, and lime.

I folded the color and extract in the dough with my hands. I just kept turning and rolling the dough in my hands and on the counter top until the color was all incorporated. Using food gel instead of food coloring makes a lot less of a mess on your hands and counter top. 


Then I placed a piece of plastic wrap under each dough ball and another piece on top of each dough ball. This keeps the the dough from drying out while you roll the other colors and shape into hearts. 


Pick one of the colors and roll the dough ball out with a rolling pin (while still in the plastic wrap).


Pull one piece of the plastic wrap off the dough ball. Put a little bit of powdered sugar on top. Continue rolling out the dough with your rolling pin. I roll it out pretty thin. 


Then flip the dough over on a lightly-covered powdered sugared surface. Peel the plastic wrap off the dough. 


Using a heart fondant cutter, I cut out the heart shapes and placed on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat this process with the other colors. 


Let all the hearts dry on the parchment paper. When they are dry, write your message with the food pen. 


Here are some of the sight word hearts we created. 





Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Traditional Cinnamon Rolls

I have never strayed from my cinnamon roll recipe (http://workingmomwonders.blogspot.com/2013/12/cinnamon-rolls.html) until last night. I came across a new recipe in the Taste of Home magazine and decided to give it a try. It resembles my usual cinnamon rolls, except it made 24 rolls per pan and used vanilla instant pudding in the dough. I didn't finish these until 10:30 last night, so the pictures aren't that great! 

Ingredients: 
1 package of yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 package of vanilla instant pudding (the small box)
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour

Filling:
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Frosting:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp water



Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and sugar. In a separate bowl, stir the pudding mix and milk together for about a minute. Let it sit for another minute. Then add the egg, butter, salt, the yeast mixture, and 2 cups of flour. 

Add remaining flour and knead for about 8 minutes. Grease the bowl, cover, and let the dough rise for about an hour. 


Punch the dough down and divide in half. Roll out on a floured surface. Spread each half with about 2 Tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Roll the dough jelly-roll (or hot dog) style. Cut each half into 12 equal parts. 

Place each piece cut-side down in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Cover and let rise for another 30-45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. 


I melted 1/4 cup butter and added 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp water, and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread the frosting on the rolls. 


This dough was really soft. Now I am not sure which recipe I like better!