Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Science Activities for Kids

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Many of you may not know that my day job is as a science specialist for a school district--and I'm also the really cool aunt who shares fun science stuff with my nieces and nephews. I thought I'd share this fun collection of Science Activities with you (maybe you will try some out over Spring Break!) I'm a big believer in capitalizing on children's natural curiosity about even the most common of things. There is a lot of science to be learned from your kitchen, your bathroom or your backyard!

Austin Children's Museum
The Exploratorium at San Francisco
Utah Education Network online educational games
The Science Spot (middle school)
Shrinky Dinks (a great lesson on conservation of mass or physical changes)

Some of my favorite books with science learning activities for kids are:

Batteries, Bulbs and Wires by David Glover
Teaching Chemistry with Toys by Terrific Science Press
Exploring Matter with Toys
Investigating Solids, Liquids and Gases with Toys

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bedroom Update

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I've been continuing to tweak my bedroom remodel. I thought I was going to get all new bed linens, but the new headboard made things look so much better, that I decided to recycle what I already had.
I have also been trying to figure out if I could put some kind of photos or pictures above the bed, and then I ran into these "wall stickers" at TJ Maxx. I haven't ever done any of the vinyl decoration around the house, but this set of stickers was only $9.99 and in the perfect colors, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Couple of things about the stickers. The package says they are repositionable, but they are not. The pieces that I placed exactly in the right spot the first time are doing great, but the ones I moved around a couple times gave me some grief.

I picked up the silver-tone frame from my mom's house, now I just need to decide what to put in it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cornmeal Pancakes

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Every good thing I've ever learned to cook probably started with some help from my mom...and these pancakes are no exception. I got to visit last weekend and she made these very yummy pancakes for breakfast (how great is it that even with just me around, she does a full Saturday morning breakfast--love you Mom!)

1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/2 C. corn meal
1 T. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1 egg
4 T. melted butter
1 C. buttermilk (don't keep it in the house? Make your own by adding the juice of 1/2 lemon to a cup of milk)

Mix up the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients (if you are making your own buttermilk, do that first so it has a chance to curdle before you add it to the bowl).

On a medium-hot griddle, spray with non-stick spray and pour the batter. Just like regular pancakes, let it cook until the bubbles stop and the edges are dry. Flip and finish cooking through. This made ten 4" pancakes (what I would call normal size).

I topped mine with boysenberry syrup, but my mom makes a tasty "semi-homemade" blueberry syrup. She takes 1 cup of maple syrup (the fake kind actual works better than the real stuff) and adds a 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries. Bring to a simmer on the stove, add 1 tsp of good vanilla and then pour over the pancakes.

The pancakes are a cross between cornbread muffins and pancakes. Just so, so tasty!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chocolate Mousse Cups

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This a really easy, fast dessert and yet it looks much more complicated. I was trying to think of a yummy dessert for a baby shower that I was attending and this fit exactly what I needed. Start with a package of frozen filo cups (in the dessert section of the frozen aisle at the store), a box of Jello Dark Chocolate Mousse, some raspberries and dark chocolate for creating shavings.

Mix up the mousse with a cup of milk. I let mine set overnight in the bowl (I think it would have been fine to pipe the mouse directly into the cups, but I was worried that the mousse would make the shell soggy since the party was the next day).
I put the refrigerated mousse in a zipper bag with a large star tip in the corner.
Ta da! It took less than 5 minutes to make the mousse cups (2 packages of cups needed 1 package of mousse)=30 bites

I topped each bite with a raspberry then used my vegetable peeler to shave some Lindt dark chocolate over the top. Super tasty (total hands on time=10 minutes, with refrigeration time at least 2 hours).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fabric Flowers

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I'm a sucker for cute hair accessories--what can I say? Its hair jewelry! A couple weeks ago I sat next to my friend Lisa at church and she was wearing a super cute red felt barrett. Knowing Lisa, I guessed she had made it (and she did)--and it was so easy! I did do some searching online and found a great blog that I have added to my "must see" list..the Craft Snob. She has a great tutorial on this type of flower as well as many others.I used a Progresso soup can as my circle size (tried using my Twilight 44 oz cup, but it ended up bigger than I wanted...but you experiment with larger circles for yours). I cut the spiral about 1/2 inch wide (I wanted the flower to have a fairly low profile).

Glue the fabric as you wrap it and cut a small circle of felt to glue to the bottom to keep it all flat. I created an attachment point for the barrett/bobby pin so that I can use the barrett with other decorations or just by itself.

I whipped this one out in about 10 minutes from start to finish (including the pawing through the fabric box looking for my felt). You'll need: felt, craft glue, hot glue, barrett or bobby pin and maybe a button or pearl or sparkly to add to the flower center.

You can make cute flowers out of other scrap fabric. The following are made out of cotton. Cut a strip of fabric about 1.5 inches wide by about 24-36 inches (longer piece=bigger flower). Fold the fabric in half and start rolling up the center. Every now and again, twist the fabric so that you get more texture (use a dab of glue every wrap to keep things tight). Great for hair doo-dads or accents on purses.