Monday, November 20, 2017

Pumpkin Bread

I found this recipe online yesterday and decided to give it a try. It is absolutely delicious. (

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 15 oz can of pumpkin

Place the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients together. 
In a separate bowl, whip the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add in the pumpkin. 
Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed. 

Grease and flour two loaf pans. Add the batter. Cook for about 55 minutes at 325 degrees. 

The bread is incredibly moist.

I'm Thankful For...Craft

We made "I'm Thankful For..." Popsicle stick fans tonight. 

Start by taping five sets of two Popsicle sticks. 
Flip each set over and tape the five sets together. 

It will now fold up like a fan. 

Write I'm Thankful For on the top stick. Then we added eight things we are thankful for. The kids colored the sticks with markers, tape, and stickers. 

You can fold them up and tie them with a ribbon or pipe cleaner if you want to make them into an ornament or hang them somewhere. 

Turkey Craft

For this craft, we used cardstock, a toilet paper roll, tissue paper, and google eyes. Rachel painted the white cardstock brown, picked colors for her feathers, and glued on tissue paper. She then decorated the turkey body with google eyes, cardstock, and markers. 
It is now the tree topper for our Thanksgiving tree. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Halloween Scavenger Hunt and Dinner Party

We decided to have some Halloween fun tonight. We had a Halloween-theme dinner, a scavenger hunt, and did some Halloween crafts and activities. 

For dinner we had spaghetti, bone bread sticks, jack-o-lantern mac and cheese cups, and purple people eater drink (ice cream and grape soda). 
I had some glow-in-the-dark balloons, so I attached each scavenger hunt clue to one of the balloons. Here are the clues: 
Starting clue: Halloween; a spooky time. Clues are written so they rhyme. Start this quest with great fear. Clue #1 is near Root Beer. 

Clue #1 (with 6 rolls of toilet paper): This TP will wrap two mummies. But they 1st need to fill their tummies. Candy can be found at your next stop, Which is where bags go after we shop. 

Clue #2 (basket with movie candy): Once the sweets are eaten, calories to burn. So Mom has a game where points are earned. Before anyone can take the 1st turn, you'll need to report where a fire (kinda) burns. 

Clue #3 (Slime game): Shooting is fine but your brain needs to grow. Putting things together makes your neurons flow. Lego kits are great but you gotta find it. Maybe consider what can make Franklin stop to sit. 

Clue #4 (Vampire Lego set): This ghastly hunt is almost done, But we are only starting the fun. The final prize is great for "chunkin" So, I'd go look inside a Pumpkin. 

(Final prize was items to make a catapult and fire candy corn into the glasses.) 

For this hunt, we turned off all of the lights and used little lanterns. Each clue had the glow-in-the-dark balloon by it too. 

We took turns making each other mummies. 

We made little ghost lights out of a tea light and ping pong ball. I cut a little slit in the ping pong ball and the kids drew a face and put it on the tea light (found at the Dollar Tree). 

We also played "roll a pumpkin". We used dice to roll a number. The numbers told us which part of the pumpkin to draw (1=pumpkin, 2=left eye, 3=right eye, 4=nose, 5=stem, 6=mouth). 

We also made some glow-in-the-dark Frankensteins. I found these storage containers at the Dollar Tree. I filled them with glow-in-the-dark filling I found at Michael's. We glued on eyes and drew on a face. 

We played some of the other games from the Scavenger Hunt and finished the night watching a Halloween movie. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Leaving a Legacy

This week I had to say goodbye to a woman that meant so much to me and my family. While reflecting on her life, I realized just how much she impacts the way I live my life. 

The things we do each day and how we respond to others is what leaves our legacy. A question I ask myself and encourage my children and students to think about is, "How do you want to be remembered?" This is how I will always remember my Grandma...
It is said that your legacy is determined by the number of hearts you touch within your lifetime. Well...Grandma Ross definitely left a legacy that most people can only dream of creating. The memories she created with each of us here are numerous and vivid. Almost all of my childhood memories have Grandma Ross in them. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am that our family was so close and living in close proximity made it possible to see Grandma and Grandpa almost every day of my life.  But it wasn’t just the fact that she did everything she could to see us and spend time with us. She made it her mission to make every moment special for each of us. The traditions she created and cherished will always hold a special place in my heart.  It wouldn’t have been Thanksgiving season without the pomegranate she always dropped off for us, it wouldn’t have been Christmas without seeing the treasures she carefully chose for each of our handmade bags or displaying the ornaments she made for our tree. It wouldn’t have been Easter without our hand stitched basket displaying our name. And everyone could always count on a special calendar for Christmas and a Hallmark card with a magazine subscription for our birthday. Jenna still can’t buy a card without checking to make sure it is Hallmark. Grandma never missed a birthday, anniversary, or holiday and marked them all with the most heartfelt cards you could find.

I don’t think there is a family member here that didn’t have a hat or piece of clothing made by Grandma. She always knew just what design fit each of us. And most of the pictures from my childhood are marked with one of the shirts Grandma made me. Whether it was a sweatshirt with a troll that had yarn hair, a shirt with glow-in-the dark puffy paint, a three-on-three shirt she created, or a handmade holiday dress, Grandma had all of that covered. And who could forget the beautiful Barbie clothes she crocheted for us. I felt so special having her one-of-a-kind creations. And I know we all will hang our stockings with a little extra care at Christmas. I can’t even begin to think about the number of hours she spent creating things for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And speaking of hours spent on us, there is not a moment in our lives that was not captured and saved by Grandma. Grandma saved every memento from our lives and created numerous scrapbooks for each of us. It wasn’t just pictures, but it was newspaper clippings, the number of points we scored in each game, napkins from special parties, report cards, certificates, everything...If they were special moments for us, they were special moments for her and she saved them so we would always have them.

There probably isn’t a person in this room that didn’t learn something from Grandma. Most importantly, we all learned how to love from her. But it went beyond that... she made it a personal mission to teach others valuable skills.  Her crafting store and classes taught so many of us how to crochet, how to sew, how to craft. Her skills will never be matched by anyone. And when I held her hand last week and told her how much I treasured her and those hands because of all of the things they showed me, she simply replied that she didn’t feel like she was ever doing anything special. She showed us those things because they were important and they meant we got to share those moments. That was just who she was. She never felt like she was ever doing anything extra...those were just the things she thought made a life worth living.

And now, as I sit here reflecting on the legacy Grandma left for me, I realize she has truly shaped me into the person I have become. Traditions and making everyday special are so important to me now because that’s the foundation she created. Crafting, crocheting, and sewing are the things I try to teach my own kids because those were the things she took the time to teach me. Collecting stamps and coins and other artifacts from our history are rooted in my own children because those are the things she did with me. Setting up a Christmas village will forever be a tradition in my home because it was in hers. And if it wouldn’t have been for her showing me a love for reading by buying me more books than I could begin to count, I wouldn’t be an English teacher today sharing that love for reading. I don’t think the things I do are special either, they are just the things that make a life worth living….It is safe to say her legacy for me is great. And I know that is the case for each of you sitting out there today. I only hope I can be half the woman for my kids that she was for me.

Jen said it best last night, “Grandma was always there! At everything, supporting us all. She lived for we just have to remember to take her along for the rest of our ride.” We need to continue the traditions and think of her everytime we see or do something we learned from her. Grandma, I hope you know you will always be with me. Almost everything I do reminds me of you. You will forever hold a special place in my heart and will be with me forever. And I’ll try to make your ribbon jello salad, because it wouldn’t be a party without your signature dish!

Thank you Grandma for being you, for loving us for who we are, and for leaving a legacy that can’t be matched. We love you.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Jan Thomas Book Birthday Party

Rachel's favorite author is Jan Thomas. We read at least one Jan Thomas book each night at bedtime. Last night she picked, A Birthday for Cow. While we were reading, we noticed Cow's birthday is Oct. 17th! So, naturally, we decided we must celebrate Cow's birthday. (Throughout the book, the characters spend time making the perfect cake. All duck wants to bring to the party is a turnip. It turns out, Cow loves the turnip best!)

We finished the cake tonight for Cow's Birthday Party tomorrow. The kids are very excited to celebrate tomorrow. (Anything to get kids excited about books!)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

STEM Halloween Mystery Bags

Tonight I made some Halloween Mystery Challenge Bags to take to a Halloween party. Each group of kids will get a bag and will set out to accomplish their challenge. 
The challenges: 
1. I can make something that reminds me of Halloween (Examples: pumpkin, pumpkin patch, skeleton, monster, etc.)
2. Build a boat to hold as many pumpkins as possible without sinking. 
3. Make something out of the toothpicks and candy.
4. Make a skeleton out of cotton swabs. Build a coffin out of the black paper. 

5. Build a web to trap the bugs. 
6. Build a tower using all of the cups and index cards. Place the pumpkins on your tower for decorations. 
7. Make a bridge you can roll your pumpkin across. 

Halloween Ornament Crafts

To make these crafts, I used LED tealight candles from Wal-Mart. 

I drew a bat template, taped it to the black felt, and cut out multiple bat shapes. I used hot glue to attach the felt to the light. Then I added black ribbon to the back. For the pumpkins I drew on a mouth, added google eyes, and a pipe cleaner for the stem. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Lego Ninjago Photo Board

I always start the boards by drawing it with pencil and outlining with black Sharpie. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I found this recipe on Pinterest tonight and decided to give it a try:
It is delicious! 

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup graham crackers, crushed
3/4 cup flour
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and then cooled

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk

Mix the topping ingredients together with a fork until it crumbles. 

Whisk all of the dry cake ingredients together in a bowl. 
Whisk the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch cake pan. Pour the batter in the pan.  

Top with the crumb mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Elephant and Piggie Photo Board

We love the Mo Williems books. Our latest photo board represents Knuffle Bunny, Piggie, Elephant, Duckling, and Pigeon. 

Apple Crisp

I found this recipe online at:
I just changed a couple of things. 

1 cup flour
3/4 cup rolled outs
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups of peeled, chopped apples
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. 

Press half of the mixture in the bottom of a greased 9x9 in pan. Place the chopped apples on top of the crust. 

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla. Let the mixture boil and thicken. Add about 1 tsp of cinnamon when you remove from the heat. 

Pour the filling on top of the apples. 

Place the remaining crumb mixture on top of the apples. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. 

Serve with ice cream if you would like. 

This recipe is very sweet, but delicious. 

The Kissing Hand Book

The day before Rachel started Kindergarten, I read her The Kissing Hand book. We then shared a kissing hand cookie. I just used sugar cookie dough from the store to make the hands. I then took a little bit of the extra dough and colored it red to make the hearts. 

She told me today that whenever she is missing me she just puts her hand on her face and she knows that I love her and am thinking about her too. :) 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Easy Jam Cheese Danishes

After making about 10 different kinds of freezer jam this year, we thought we should try some different recipes. My mom found this one to try. It turned out amazing and was very easy. 

2 packages of crescent roll dough
1 8 oz cream cheese (softened) 
4 Tbsp butter (separated)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Your choice of jam (about a tablespoon per danish)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 tsp milk

Open the package of crescent rolls, but don't unroll the dough. Use a knife to cut the dough into slices (We did 6 slices per roll.) Lay each slice on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Use your fingers to create a well in each of the slices. 

Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and add the 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir that together and brush on each of the slices of dough. 

 Combine the cream cheese, 2 Tbsp butter, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Place a scoop of the mixture in the dough. 

Then add a dollop of your favorite jam flavors. Here we have peach, raspberry-peach, and blackberry-raspberry-peach. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes. 

Mix the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together to make the glaze. Top the danishes with the glaze after they come out of the oven. These are delicious warm or chilled!