SPECIALIZING IN UNIQUE GIFTS FOR BABIES AND CHILDREN

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SCHOOL IN SESSION - QUIET ON THE HOME FRONT

Today all the grandkids are in either elementary school or at mother's day out.  It's very quiet!  Hopefully, I will use this free time to be productive with sewing and taking photos of the projects I have finished.

Monday, August 30, 2010

LAYERED SALAD RECIPE

Found this recipe from the Pioneer Woman blog.  If you haven't discovered her yet, please visit her blog - its WONDERFUL!  Her recipes are always full of fantastic photographs, so you can't go wrong following her step-by-step instructions. 

Layered Salad

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time:
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 12

INGREDIENTS:

■ SALAD
1 head Iceberg Lettuce, Chopped
8 ounces, fluid Baby Spinach, Washed And Dried
Salt And Pepper, to taste
8 whole Hard Boiled Eggs, Chopped
16 ounces, weight Bacon, Cooked And Chopped
4 whole Tomatoes, Chopped
1 bunch Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
8 ounces, weight Cheddar Cheese, Grated
1 bag (10 Ounce) Frozen Peas, Partially Thawed

■ DRESSING
1 cup (real) Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Sugar (more To Taste)

DIRECTIONS:


In a clear glass bowl, layer salad ingredients in the order they appear above, concentrating ingredients around the perimeter of the bowl and filling in the center with lettuce, if needed. End with the layer of peas.

Combine dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Pour over the top of the peas and spread to cover, bringing dressing all the way out to the edges of the bowl.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Toss just before serving.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

BUSY WEEKEND

It looks like it will be a busy weekend.  Out of town guests and planning on doing a lot of sewing for the upcoming craft fair.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

ALLIGATOR CLIP BOW TUTORIAL

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With 3 granddaughter, I think hair accessories are a necessity rather than a luxury.  I found a mini clippie bow tutorial by The Ribbon Retreat.  It is very well written and has lots of good pictures for viewing each step.  They also sell supplies. I plan on trying my hand at making some of these little creations.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A TEACHER'S WISH LIST FOR PARENTS


Most children are heading back to school this month.  There are lots of ads for school supplies and articles written explaining how children can be more successful in school. 

Parents, do you wonder what it takes to help your kids do their very best at school? Good Housekeeping went into classrooms at schools around the country and talked to the teachers who spend their days with your children. Here's what they said about how you can help the teachers help your kids:

(as a retired teacher of 25 years, I added my comments in red)

1. Don't be a stranger!

Talk to your child's teacher early and often. Back-to-school night shouldn't be the only time you connect, but it's a great time to introduce yourself and find out the best way to contact her in the future. Then stay in touch with updates on how things are going at home, questions about your child and his work, or to schedule conferences to head off trouble (should you worry about that string of C's?). Most teachers have e-mail at school, which is a great way to check in.

My communication preference as a teacher was e-mail, because it was a quick and efficient form of reply to a parent inquiry.  It takes a longer time period for a teacher to write notes or to make telephone calls which typically means leaving voice messages. 

2. Learning doesn't stop at 3:15.

You can help the teacher do a better job by encouraging your child to show you something he's working on at school. It doesn't have to be a big deal.  Ask him to demonstrate how he does long division or to read his book report out loud.  Every time your child gets a chance to show off what he knows, it builds confidence.

Usually the difference between a child being successful and mediocre depends on how involved their parents are in the learning process.  All parents lead busy lives, but part of the parenting process is providing the time to help reinforce the learning concepts with their children.  Repetition is a big part of mastering a learning skill.

3. Stay involved — even when you don't know the material.

You can provide moral support and be your child's cheerleader no matter how well (or poorly) you did in a certain subject. "Parents tell me they didn't take trigonometry or flunked chemistry, so how can they check the homework?" says Tim Devine, a high school social science teacher in Chicago. "But we don't expect you to be an expert on every subject." Just knowing a parent is paying attention can be very motivating for a student.

Check with the teacher when they provide tutorials and if they could recommend an on-line tutorial or help website.  Many high schools offer free after school tutorials by National Honor Society members.  The counseling office may have a list of tutors for hire.

4. Keep your child organized.

That means helping teachers with the paper chase. "I spend way too much time tracking down tests or forms I've sent home for a parent's signature," says Judy Powell, a fifth-grade teacher from Richmond, Virginia. Usually, the missing items are crumpled up in the bottom of the kid's backpack, along with lunch leftovers and other clutter. Powell's solution: Have your child empty his backpack every day as part of a regular after-school routine. Set up a special place, such as a box in the kitchen, where he can put the day's papers, and provide another spot, such as a desk drawer, for old assignments that you want to save. A bright-colored folder is a good idea, too, for toting homework — and signed papers — to and from school. And about those supplies: Keep plenty on hand. "Kids run out of pencils and paper, and it'll be three weeks before they'll remember to tell you," says Powell.

One of the main reasons a student receives a zero for an assignment is due to "misplaced" homework.  The student completed the homework, but has nothing to turn in to the teacher for grading.  This is very frustrating for all involved because it doesn't provide a true indicator of the student's knowledge.

5. Let your child make mistakes.

Don't forget, he's learning. Teachers don't want perfect students, they want students who try hard. "Sometimes parents get caught up in thinking every assignment has to be done exactly right, and they put too much pressure on their child," says Brian Freeman, a second-grade teacher from Red Spring, North Carolina. "But it's OK for kids to get some problems wrong. It's important for us to see what students don't know, so we can go over the material again."

I always told my students it is important to learn from their mistakes.  That's why it's called "learning".

Is your child struggling with an assignment? Help him brainstorm possible solutions. If he's still stuck, resist the temptation to write a note. Instead, encourage your child to take charge by asking the teacher for help the next day.

High school teachers usually prefer for their students to come in "before" their class starts to get help rather than waiting until homework is collected during class. 

Hands off bigger assignments, too, says Marty Kaminsky, a fourth-grade teacher in Ithaca, New York. "I assigned a project on inventors, and several kids brought in amazingly detailed reports with slide-shows. They looked great, but they clearly weren't the work of a nine-year-old," he says. "I was much happier with the posters with the pictures glued on crooked, because I knew those children did the work themselves. What matters isn't the final result; it's letting a child have ownership of the project."

How many parents have you heard say, "I stayed up till midnight finishing my child's project"?

6. Raise a good reader.

Even if your child isn’t a natural-born bookworm, you can encourage him to love literature. Keep reading together, even if your kid can breeze through a book on his own. Reading aloud can expand his vocabulary, and your chats about the book will help him understand and enjoy more. But you might want to shelve books that seem way over his head. It’s tempting to push literary limits, but the goal is understanding and enjoyment.

Use audiobooks as a tool to inspire love of reading. They aren’t “cheating;” they’re a terrific way to engage kids in a good yarn. Check out bookadventure.com for more with books kids will enjoy.

If you can read, you can do almost anything!  There are a vast number of electronic reading programs/books on the market, but remember you are the most important resource for your child.

7. If the teacher deserves a good grade, give her one.

Teaching isn't easy, and there are days when a kid has a tantrum, or a teacher feels like crying because a parent speaks to her harshly. So why not e-mail or call when your child enjoys a class event or says something nice about the instructor? And if you feel the teacher is doing a good job, let the principal know. Volunteering is another way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and support, even if you only have time to help out once a year. It shows your child — and his teacher — that you really care about his education.

This is so true.  In the business world, most people receive salary bonuses for excellent work.  Students receive high GPAs as their bonuses for doing excellent course work.  Teachers do not receive salary bonuses....  As a high school teacher, I loved receiving positive feedback from parents and students.  I also think it is very important for teachers to let parents and students know when they were terrrific. 

8. The teacher's on your side — give her the benefit of the doubt.

Rachel James, a third-grade teacher in Reson, Florida, was having a terrible time with one of her students. For days, the boy had been disruptive, rolling his eyes and sighing dramatically whenever anyone spoke to him. Naturally, she had to reprimand him. "His mom called and accused me of picking on her son," says James. "When I told her what was going on, she was shocked." After the mom had calmed down, they worked out some ways to change the boy's behavior. "A lot of parents go into attack mode when their child complains about a teacher," says James. "Or they take the problem to the principal, so the teacher feels blindsided. But parents need to get all the facts before they react."

I believe there are 3 versions to most classroom stories:  the student version, the teacher version, and the version involving background information.  In order to be fair to all parties involved you must enter the discussion with an open mind and be there to help your child.  As in the story above, what has happened that caused the boy to exhibit these behavioral changes?  Address the problem and then you can find a solution.  Everyone wins in that scenario. 

You should be an advocate for your child, but you must allow your child to be responsible for his own behavior and to accept consequences for any inappropriate actions.  That's part of growing up and becoming a responsible, productive citizen.

9. There is a secret to better grades.

Set up a brief get-together with your child's teacher(s) early in the school year. A one-on-one conversation is the perfect time to bring up important issues, like the fact that your child struggled in math last year or tended to hand in homework late. Also check in with the school district’s or teachers’ website in order to stay on top of your child’s assignments, grades, test dates and scores — and more. Find out what resources there are for you, and use them. If your child is having a tough time in a particular class, don’t just swoop in and try to make things right. Encourage your child to meet with his teacher to resolve a problem on his own.

Be pro-active rather than reactive.  Don't wait until the end of the grading period to ask why your child isn't performing at his grade level or if there is any last-minute solution.  If you are following the tips listed above, you should never be in this position.

If there’s issue between your child and a teacher, don’t automatically run to the principal behind the teacher’s back. Certain situations that involve your child’s safety do merit a meeting with the head of school, but otherwise, going over the teacher’s head signals a lack of respect. When you can’t agree on a solution, set up a meeting with the teacher and a school administrator, who can help work things out.

Remember there is a chain of command.  The first link in the chain of command is the teacher.  Teachers are in the profession because they love teaching and interacting with children.  They are NOT your enemy.

May this school year be your child's best!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TEXAS TECH NAP MAT COVER AND MINKY BLANKET

This is a Texas Tech 
nap mat cover
and
minky blanket 
I made for my grandson.

Monday, August 23, 2010

FIRST DAY AT KINDERGARTEN

Today is my granddaughter's first day of kindergarten.  
She was so excited and thrilled to be at school.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

MEMORIES OF CAREFREE SUNDAY DRIVES

When I was growing up, my parents always took us to "early" mass on Sunday morning. Then they would pick up the BEST doughnuts for breakfast. We didn't have to do many chores that day, and usually we all would pile into the car and take a Sunday afternoon drive through the countryside. Many times we would end up in Uniontown for an evening meal of hamburgers. Eating out was a treat for our family of seven. Where have those carefree Sunday drives gone?


Saturday, August 21, 2010

QUIET WEEKEND PLANNED

Have a carefree, but busy Saturday planned.  I have a lot of things to do on my "To Do" list, but they are all small and easy.  Just finished painting my grandson's bathroom wall.  Now ready to go down the lane, to take care of business on my homefront.  Life is good!

Friday, August 20, 2010

GREAT TRUTHS THAT ADULTS HAVE LEARNED

A friend sent these to my husband - funny, but so true!


GREAT TRUTHS 
THAT ADULTS 
HAVE LEARNED


Raising teenagers is like nailing jelly to a tree.


Wrinkles don't hurt.


Families are like fudge,
mostly sweet - with a few nuts.


Today's mighty oak 
is yesterday's nut that held its ground.


Laughing is good exercise;
it's like jogging on the inside.


Middle age is when you choose your cereal
for the fiber, not the toy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BROWNIES ON A STICK

INGREDIENTS
  • Betty Crocker Original Supreme Premium Brownie Mix (1 lb. 2.4 oz)
  • Water, vegetable oil, and egg as called for on brownie box
  • 15 craft sticks (flat wooden sticks with rounded ends)
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (4 oz)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. shortening
  • assorted decorating decors candy sprinkles

DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Line 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray. 
  2. Make brownies as directed on box. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  3. Place brownies in freezer for 30 minutes. 
  4. Remove brownies from pan by lifting foil; peel foil from sides of brownies. Cut brownies into 15 rectangular bars, 5 rows by 3 rows. 
  5. Gently insert craft stick into end of each bar, peeling foil from bars. Place on cookie sheet; freeze 30 minutes.
  6. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and shortening uncovered on High about 1 minute; stir until smooth. If necessary, microwave additional 5 seconds at a time. 
  7. Dip top 1/3 to 1/2 of each brownie into chocolate; sprinkle with candy sprinkles. Lay flat on waxed paper or foil to dry
Variation:  Use white baking chips for the chocolate chips.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

YUCATAN TACO STAND and SWEET SAMMIES

Yesterday my daughter took me to lunch at 
Yucatan Taco Stand
on 
W. Magnolia Street in Ft. Worth.  
Wonderful nachos!

Since it was so hot out,
we finished with a cold dessert
at
Sweet Sammies
on
Currie Street.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FT. WORTH MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND HISTORY

Today I took my daughter and grandkids 
to the 
Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History.  
The museum recently underwent a major renovation.  It has a terrific children's section with lots of hands-on activities.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

ASK HOW HOT IT IS IN TEXAS

It was so hot today, 
I saw a chicken lay a hardboiled egg.
DFW area had over 14 days of 100+ temp.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

WHERE OH WHERE ARE MY BACK UP FILES ?

I re-installed my Windows XP and Canon Printer software disks, so I am up and running in that area.  I bought and installed a new anti-virus software last night.  I am still looking for my "back up" files.  My son says he figured out which drive they were in, but didn't know how to retrieve the files.  He's checking with some of his "computer" friends, so hopefully, I can restore them sometime in the near future.  This would be the ideal theme for a songwriter to make a funny jingle about, "Where Oh Where Are My Backup Files?".

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

COMPUTERS: A LOVE - HATE RELATIONSIP

I admit I am technically challenged, but  I do love using my computer.  For the past 30 years I used one everyday for teaching and personal usage.  But there is a down side to my computers - when they don't work; I don't have a clue how to fix them.  I guess I have been lucky that I only experienced a couple of incidents that were easily resolved.  Recently, I had my HP prompt me to do a system restore.  Dumb me. I followed their instructions and made the mistake of backing up my files on the hard drive.  Now I am having problems finding those files.  I tried and tried, but I still can't find them.  Luckily, most files were backed up on thumb drives or CDs.  Alas, I do not have unconditional LOVE for my computer - I HATE my computer when it doesn't work the way I want it to work.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TIP ON CLEANING CELERY

To save time, whenever you clean a bunch of celery, cut off the root far enough up on the bunch to loosen all the stalks at one time.  Then clean.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

WILL IT MATTER IN THE FUTURE?

Whenever little diasters stress me out I ask myself, "Will this matter one year from now?"  If the answer is no, I try to let it go and move on to other things that are more important.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

JOE T. GARCIA RESTAURANT STATS


Since I live in the DFW area, I found this interesting article in the April 2010 issue of Southern Living regarding our famous authentic Mexican restaurant, Joe T. Garcia's, located in Ft. Worth, Texas.  It is a family-owned restaurant (Garcia-Lancarte) in business for 75 years.  Here are some interesting stats on the restaurant:

 1,300 
number of seats
550
gallons of salsa made and served in a week
275
pounds of refried beans served in a day
1,500
number of family-style dinners served on a typical Saturday
1935
year opened on the 4th of July
1998
year won the coveted James Beard Foundation Award for America's Classics
2,000
pounds of Cheddar cheese used every week
18,000
number of tortillas hand-rolled per week   


If you have never been to Joe T's - it's time to experience this iconic Ft. Worth establishment! 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

SAUSAGE STUFFED MUSHROOM APPETIZERS


I ate several of these tasty mushroom appetizers at a recent neighborhood happy hour.  I am not a mushroom fan, but these were absolutely delicious! 


INGREDIENTS

3 Italian hot sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg yolk

Olive oil
24 large (about 2-inch-diameter) mushrooms, stemmed
1/3 cup dry white wine

PREPARATION  (preheat oven to 350°F )
  1. Saute sausage and oregano in heavy large skillet over medium - high heat until sausage is cooked through and brown, breaking into small pieces with back of fork.  (about 7 minutes)
  2. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to large bowl and cool.
  3. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and then cream cheese.
  4. Season filling with salt and pepper before mixing in egg yolk.
  5. Brush 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish with olive oil to coat.
  6. Brush cavity of each mushroom cap with white wine.
  7. Fill each mushroom cap with scant 1 tablespoon filling and sprinkle with some of remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
  8. Arrange mushrooms, filling side up, in prepared dish.
  9. Bake uncovered until mushrooms are tender and filing is brown on top; about 25 minutes.
         (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Yield:  24 appetizers
 
Bon App├ętit
November 2002

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TOO MANY TASKS AND NOT ENOUGH TIME

Whenever I feel overwhelmed with what seems like a million things to do in a short amount of time, I ask myself "What is the absolute most important thing I should spend my time doing today?"  That seems to put everything in perspective for me.  I usually make a list and check things off as I do them.  This helps me keep on task and accomplish tasks in a quicker fashion.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

CHIC HOSTESS APRONS

Do you remember a time when your mother or grandmother always wore an apron whenever she cooked or cleaned house?  Sweet memories of times when mothers were the main caregivers of the home and children would spend carefree days playing in the neighborhood.  Similar to the "Leave It To Beaver" show, except my mother never wore pearls!

Believe it or not, the apron is making a comeback - updating the classic apron as a fashion accessory for today's entertaining.  For years, this is what Southern ladies referred to as a hostess apron.  Today's hostess aprons are usually made of designer or trendy fabrics and are primarily stylish rather than functional.  They are used as the perfect accessory to your attire when serving family and friends at a dinner party at home.  Casual hostess aprons are also on the comeback with themes or funny sayings printed on them.  Whether it is for a family dinner, backyard BBQ, or happy hour; please check out this collection of aprons. 

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You can find more unique aprons at etsy .