Saturday, July 9, 2011

Slime Time

Last week at the library as we were searching for books on apples. I stumbled upon a science experiment book called Science Rocks! It is a huge book full of science experiments for all ages. It ranges from the material world, forces in motion, energy in action, electricity and magnetism, and the natural world. I thought it would be a blast to do a few of the simple experiments with Virginia.  First up we did Slime Time.

Fill a cup with cornstarch and pour it into a bowl.

Slowly add some water, stirring all the time. Keep adding water slowly until the mixture turns into a sticky paste. Don't add too much - you probably won't need more than half a cup.

Add food coloring until your mixture changes color, stirring it though until it is all blended in.

Then you have Slime! Pick the mixture up and see how it behaves. What happens if you squeeze or pull it? If you throw it on the floor it will stick together  like a solid, but if you leave it there  it will turn  into a liquid puddle. I add a blast playing in the slime. The texture is amazing and feels so funny turning from solid to a liquid. Sadly Virginia wanted nothing to do with the slime. Slowly I will make my little clean freak into a messy two year old girl.

Warning: Your hands will be tinted the color of food dye you use.


We Need YOUR Words!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A is for Apples

Ais for Apples. 

This week I decided to start the Letter of the Week with Virginia. I wanted something fun and educational to do each day with her. Something that we both could enjoy with the TV off. Less TV time this summer is my goal. 

My BFF Lisa told me about Confessions of a Homeschooler, a home school blog, that shares tons of printable activities for kids of all ages. Most of the activities are free printable files and some are for sale. Luckily for me most of the Letter of the Week is free. 

Tuesday we headed to the library for the books about apples. The library is always a great activity for the summer. Virginia enjoys the puzzles and games. I enjoy getting out of the house and picking out some cute books. Most of the books for the letter A that Confessions of a Homeschooler recommends was checked out. I guess the letter A is coming back into style. The wonderful Kannapolis libarian helped us pick out some new ones. We ended up walking out with Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson & Nancy Carpenter, The Lady with the Alligator Purse by Nadine Bernard Westcott, Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg, Down the Road by Alice Schertle, and The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson. Some of these books are a little long for Virginia so I plan to break them up reading half in the morning and half at night. 

So far we have read The Lady with the Alligator Purse which is adapted from the poem. This book is pure silly and Virginia insists on reading the book at least 100 times a day. The poem is about a little baby that gets into lets of trouble taking a bath. This is a cute book and short. We also have read Apples to Oregon. This book is longer and tells the story of a family making their way to Oregon with all of their prized apple trees. They get into all kinds of trouble and adventures. I was amazed that the story kept Virginia's attention til the end. 

Wednesday was the first official day of Letter A. The night before I sewed a magnetic apple. The apple was very simple to create. 

First take a strip of red fabric. I used red cotton fabric, but you can use any fabric. Next take a mug and fabric marker. You will trace a circle onto the fabric using the mug.

Once you have traced the circle, you will want to fold the fabric up like an ecordian. This way you will only have to cut out the circle once. Also this method will make all the circles the same size.

Next I took two of the circles and placed a square of poly-fil traditional batting between them. I didn't pin the layers together, but it is a good idea to pin. Next take the layers to the sewing machine and sew around the circle. Leave just a small space at the top open so you can sew in the stem. If you don't have a sewing machine you could always use fabric glue or even a glue gun.

Note: After I sewed the layers together I thought about putting in magnetic discs. So I took three magnetic discs and placed them on tape and slid the tape inside the apple. In the future I would tape the magnetic discs to one of the layers before I sewed them together. 

Next you will trim very close to the edge of the apple. Then take some brown felt and free hand a stem. I took the stem and placed it in the open space of the apple. I took the lazy route and quickly sewed up the  opening along with the stem on the sewing machine. You could also hand stitch the stem into the apple. Next take green felt and cut out a leave. I did hand stitch the leave onto the apple. Now you have your very own magnetic apple. Beware of fish that are looking for a snack. 

Every apple needs a tree don't you think. Ok so I went a little over the top and made an apple tree for our  fridge. My husband was surprised when he came home Tuesday night. Virginia woke up Wednesday and walked into the kitchen and just froze. Virginia said, " tree mama." She really enjoyed placing the apple on her tree. The tree is very simple to make. I took some left over green fabric and cut out the tree top. I just took a fabric marker and free handed the top of the tree. I took brown felt and cut out the trunk of the tree. Next I took velcro and attached the top and trunk of the tree to the fridge. Simple as 1, 2, 3. 

My plan is to create a magnet for each letter of the week. Wednesday we continued with some more apple activities that we found on Confessions of a Homeschooler. There are so many to choose from. All the prints are free. I picked the activities that I felt would be best for Virginia's age. I would recommend downloading all the files and taking it somewhere to print. If you print at home you will use up alot of ink. I plan in the future to print all the activities onto card stock and taking them to get laminated. 

Here is Virginia coloring in her A is for Apple coloring page.

Virginia is matching the apple halves together by color. This was her favorite game.

In this game Virginia had to match the upper and lowercase a's to the apples on the tree.

For this game I printed the file and then cut and pasted one half of the apple onto construction paper. 

Virginia insisted that her apples be purple. Here is the coloring page and the child can trace the upper and lowercase A's at the top of the page.

Upper and Lowercase Matching Game.

Here is the large floor numbers. I took the magnetic apple and let Virginia place the apple on the correct number that I called out. I hope in the future to make ten apples. That way she can place the correct number of apples on each card. All the activities were lots of fun and kept Virginia's attention. Thursday she woke up and ran into the living room asking for Apple Game. Hope you enjoy and make sure to pay  Confessions of a Homeschooler a visit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Discovering: Cultures & Diversity Forum

When I first joined The Mommies Network I was a little overwhelmed. I wasn't  quite sure where to start. Slowly I browsed though each forum one by one. Learning what each forum was about and what each forum contained. Funny thing is for a week or so I didn't even realize that there was a whole bottom half to the site. I discovered the Area Groups and Support Groups. I really enjoyed the Books, Movies, and other Entertainment as well as the Green Thumbs and Glue Guns.

Many members go though similar experiences learning the site and discovering each forum. To help new members find their way and old members rediscover the forums. We have decided to showcase a testimony from the moderator and a current member of each forum. Hopefully this will help everyone learn a little more about CentralPiedmont Mommies and The Mommies Network.

Cultures & Diversity Forum

Kearley - Moderator

Bonjour!   ¡Hola   こんにちは   Halló!   مرحبا   Ciao!   नमस्ते 
Hello, my name is Kirsten. I am the Cultures & Diversity Support Group Moderator & I would like to share a little about this forum. This is an open Support Group forum. Everyone is welcome! 

The Culture's & Diversity Forum is the place to share your culture and learn about another. Even if you think you don't have a culture, I guarantee your stories are different than mine. We are ALL different so let's celebrate that. How boring would it be if we were all the same? 

This forum is about Unity in Diversity. How are we similar? How are we different? How can we all get along? This forum is the place to have important discussions about the diversity around us. These are issues our children will face. We are here to support & learn from each other, because how we are is how our children will be. 

Whether you have an interracial family, multireligious marriage, immigrated from another culture, or just have questions or comments about anything cultural, this is the forum for that. 

And it is the place for - fill in the blank- Want to learn traditional ethnic recipes? Interested in going to a multi-cultural music festival? Did you just spend a week in Guam? (Not sure where Guam is?) This can be the place for that too! 

So please join the conversation. The more voices we have, the better the discussion. Just remember to keep it kind! 

~ Dappermommy ( current member )

“We have the ability to achieve, if we master the necessary goodwill, a common global society blessed with a shared culture of peace that is nourished by the ethnic, national and local diversities that enrich our lives.” Mahnaz Afkhami 

CPM Cultures & Diversity Group is a forum for those interested in learning more about other members and their families from a cultural perspective. The forum provides information on activities, playdates and social issues. 

As a former student of cultural anthropology, the group is a great way for me to continue to learn about cultures and diversity, and to also share the richness of this knowledge with my family. It's also a way to meet with like-minded individuals to share play-time, good food, and experience cultural activities together. 

Through this group my family has enjoyed good discussion, international potlucks, playdates and trips to places such as the International House in Charlotte. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chicken Empanadas

If you are like me, you may be sick of hotdogs and hamburgers after the Fourth of July weekend. Why not add a little spice to your weekly meal plan by adding chicken empanadas. I love this dish because I have a small love affair with mexican food. Also this dish is pretty quick and easy for little fingers to eat.

First take three cups of chicken and cook it in a pan on the stove top. I used a package of chicken tenders. I just cut each tender into bite size pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper. In a large bowl combine the cooked chicken, one ( 8oz. package shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend, 4 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped, 1 tablespoon ground cumin1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Unroll one piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15-inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter or use any round mug or object you have. I used a hamburger patty maker. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining piecrusts, making 12 to 15 circles total. Arrange one round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round. 

Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining rounds and chicken mixture. Place the empanadas on a greased cookie sheet to bake in the oven at 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes. 

Note: You can freeze the leftover mixture for up to one month for future meals. I ate my leftover mixture within one week. It was that yummy!
Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fourth of July: Flag Cake

With every holiday, my whole family likes to get together for a meal and good times. 4th of July is no different. We all pack into our cars and drive up to Hendersonville, NC to have a BBQ at my Aunt's house. We all bring some sort of dish to share. I usually always bring a dessert. This year I wanted to challenge myself and decided to try my hand at a three layer cake. I couldn't just do a simple three layer cake, but decided to try to make a Flag Cake.

Take three 9-inch round cake pans and spray them with cooking spray and then lightly dust them with flour.  Note: I learned in the end that my pans were not 9-inch pans and one of the three were not the same sizes. 

I used two white cake box mixes to make my cake batter. Separate the batter into three bowls. Then I used food coloring to dye one layer red , blue, and leave one layer white. You will have leftover batter that you can make cupcakes with. Then follow the box directions and bake your cakes.  Note: You will end up using a ton of food coloring. I have been told that food coloring gel works better.

Once you have allowed your cakes to cool in the pans for ten minutes, carefully remove each cake from its pan. Once removed and allow your layers to cool for an hour, use your cake lever tool or a knife to remove the hump in the middle of the cake. This will help make the stacking go easy and keep your cake level.  Also use the cake lever and cut the red and white layer in half horizontally. 

Note: It is best to bake the cakes the night before you wish to assemble and serve the cake; the overnight rest in the fridge makes the individual layers very easy to cut and frost. I learned this after I made the cake.

Now take one of the red layers, white layers, and the blue layer. Stack these layers red, white, and blue. Use a large mug or bowl and place on top in the middle of the blue layer and cute around the mug. You will end up with a small circle of red, white, and blue. Save the blue layer, the one with the middle cut out. Save the small circles of red and white layer. You can discard the rest of the red and white layer. 

Note: Once you cut the layers, there is quite a bit of "waste" involved with this cake. But! Do not throw it away! You can save it and serve it, cut into pieces, with ice cream.

Now take the white layer and ice the top all the way to the edge.
Note: place your white layer on the cake holder or plate that you tend to store the cake in.

Next stack the red layer on top of the white layer. Then ice the top of the red layer all the way to the edge.

Next stack the blue layer on top of the red layer. You will want to use a spoon or small knife to ice the inside of the blue circle. Then place the white circle inside the blue hole. Then ice the top of the white circle and place the red circle on top. Try to make sure once the circles are in the blue hole that the top of the cake is level. As you can see I has some problems with this. Once you have all the layers together ice the whole cake.

 I think I accidentally did a crumb coat on my cake. Because once I iced the cake I realized that I had tons of crumbs in my icing. So I put the cake in the fridge for a bit. Then took it out and iced the whole cake again. This helped to clean my cake up.  Then I took a knife and cut a slice out so you could see the american flag design. Mine was a little messy, but I think I learned my mistakes and my next three layer cake will be even better. Happy Fourth of July weekend everyone!


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