Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pasta Bird Nests

My kids love these because they make the usual spaghetti meal unusual. I twist some cooked spaghetti into the oiled cups of my jumbo muffin tin and make a depression in the center to form the "nest." Any flavor pasta works (we use whole wheat blend) and I'd guess pretty much any style works as long as it's long like spaghetti.

I drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle whatever shredded cheese I have on hand and bake at 350 F for 5-10 minutes (just enough to melt the cheese and set the nests).

Meatballs are fun toppers as the "eggs" in the nest, but sometimes we just drizzle sauce over the nests and serve them plain. The kids love 'em!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Winter Discovery Table

As I packed up the Christmas decorations, I decided to leave my snowman collection out for our unit on "Winter." I put fresh batteries in the light-up snowman tree so the kids could see it lit up at eye level. The table has several drawers, so mittens, hats and scarves can play a part in our winter discovery.

Since we live in Central Florida, winter is still just a concept for our preschoolers. I pulled out all the books we own relating to winter, including Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner; The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt; Welcome Back, Sun by Michael Emberley; The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel and Nancy Winslow Parker; All You Need for a Snowman by Barbara Lavallee; and several easy readers about animals in winter.

The TV table makes a perfect discovery table, now that we got rid of the set in our living room. We never watched it anyway! This is our winter discovery table:

How do you celebrate winter?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Old Jeans + Quilt Binding = Cute Apron!

This is the apron I made for my niece (age 9 1/2) for Christmas. She is very fashionable and loves to do cooking projects, so I knew she needed a hip little apron.
I save old jeans for various uses. These were my husband's old Gap jeans. I cut one back pocket for the top of the apron and used the front of the jeans as the skirt. Black quilt binding finished the edges and I used some cute polka dots for the sash. I also handstitched her first initial onto the front bib pocket, but didn't get a picture of that.
It turned out so cute, and she really liked it! Now I want one for myself!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Where the Wild Things Were

The Wild Things were out in full force last night for our son's 5th birthday party, lakeside. We built a bonfire on the beach and gave each kid a pair of binoculars so they could spy wild things. They were invited to take a boat ride around the edge of the lake to observe local wildlife, enjoying the amazing sunset on the ride back to the beach.

KID 2 and KID 1 enjoy the sunset from the bow of Uncle Mark's boat

If you're not familiar with the classic story Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, read my post from last week. The Birthday Boy's Max suit was just a pair of thermal longjohns and a furry tail. I made the tail removable with these clips and the hood was a separate piece. He pretty much just looked like he was running around in his underwear after about 20 minutes of the party! Oh, well!

I also sewed lots of wild animal print tails for our wild guests to wear. They were a hit, but I didn't get any pictures. It was totally dark by the time we got back from the boat ride and got our tails situated! I first saw them here, but decided I could make them easily for a lot less. Plus I could choose any wild print I wanted! We ended up with zebra tails with hot pink feathers at the end, cow tails, leopards, lizards, and more. I used one clip per tail and they stayed on just fine.

Each goody bag also included a mask for them to color and wear...there just wasn't enough time before it got really dark (which was fine with everyone, since it was really all about the bonfire!).

I decided while I was shopping for the wild dinner that we really needed to serve wild punch. I found some green Tampico kiwi, strawberry, guava juice and paired it with ginger ale. These were poured over a punchbowl full of gummy worms and craisins (to look like bugs). The Craisins floated, but the gummyworms lurked on the bottom for anyone unfortunate enough to scoop their punch from the bottom of the bowl...it was great!

After a quick meal of hotdogs and chips (ahem...not the most nutritious meal, but there were supposed to be small ears of corn...we just completely forgot them)...I prepped them before storytime so their terrible roars, terrible claws, gnashing teeth, and rolling eyes were ready for their cue. What fun to read Where the Wild Things Are by the fireside with a bunch of enthusiastic wild things!

When we got to the wild rumpus part of the story, we did the hokey pokey and sang wild songs around the fire. Then we passed around a sackful of hand instruments: drums, shakers, rattles, sticks, tambourine, you name it. What a wonderful racket we made marching around that bonfire, each child so proud of his and her individual contribution to the din!

It's hard to stop a wild rumpus cold turkey, so we roasted marshmallows after that, each kid turning in his or her instrument to gain a roasting stick and marshmallow. We enjoyed the wild thing cupcakes while Birthday Boy opened his gifts by the fire. It was a spectacular night. The stars were bright, the wind off the lake kept us cool, and the bonfire kept us entertained! I think it was the best birthday party I've ever been to...but I'm such a kid at heart! I'm very easy to please!