Monthly Archives: May 2011

Clothespin Art Display Board

Displaying kids’ work is a great way to encourage them to be proud of their creations.  We always have art projects and other important items (like a preschool diploma) to display, but we run out of fridge space and magnets pretty quickly.  I’ve been trying to find a kid-friendly solution for this problem for a while.  I thought about a bulletin board, but we don’t want to deal with tacs.  I priced magnetic white boards, but that would have been $200 for 4 big ones.  Plus the magnets would get lost and scattered.  Then I saw big wooden clothespins in the dollar section at Target and had this idea for a fun and cheaper solution.  I plan to make more of these in my kids’ rooms too.


What you need:
clothespins (smaller size will work fine)
glossy acrylic paint
wide flat stiffer bristle brush
long painted board, cut to fit your space
extra long drywall screws
1” screws
power drill


     

How it’s done:
  1. First I disassembled the clothespins by carefully pulling off the metal spring part.  I then painted the clothespins halves with glossy acrylic paint using a wide flat stiffer bristle brush.  I used the color coding method so each of my kids knows where to hang his or her work.   
  2. Next I got my handy husband to contribute a board scrap from his collection in the garage.  Fortunately, this one was already painted.  After we decided the right height that would allow our kids to hang their art themselves, he drilled pilot holes in the board about 12” apart.  Then he screwed the board to the wall with the extra long drywall screws. (My husband has serious skills with the power drill, so I leave that part to him.)
  3. Next he screwed the disassembled clothespin halves into the board with 1” screws, covering the long drywall screw head already placed in the board.
  4. After I reassembled the clothespins with the metal springs and other wooden halves on the board, the kids proudly hung up their recent artwork.


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    Chickpea Pasta Salad


    I love making up recipes. This is a recipe I threw together with ingredients I found in my kitchen. Make this meal meatless by removing the pepperoni! It can be easily doubled if you are serving a large group or want leftovers.


    Ingredients:
    1/2 box whole wheat pasta (shells, rotini, wheels, or elbow)
    1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    20 grape tomatoes (or 1 large tomato), chopped
    1 or 2 avocados, chopped
    Optional: 10-15 slices of pepperoni (more or less, depending on your taste), chopped into small squares
    1/2 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dip dry mix
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    Fresh ground pepper


    Directions:

    Cook the noodles until al dente, set a side. Whisk together the ranch dip seasoning, olive oil and red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Add a little pepper, if desired. In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients (except the avocado) and pour the dressing over, mix to coat. Divide into individual bowls, add a few slices of avocado to each bowl. Enjoy!

    Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Trifle

    Time for something sweet!  This one is an original recipe from my mother-in-law, Dawn.  I make it only for an extra-special treat or when I really want to impress some guests.  This is no vitamin-packed breakfast smoothie.  The kids go wild with it.  In my humble opinion, it’s okay to delve into something this wonderfully sweet and rich on occasion. 🙂  You will need a trifle bowl.  I always borrow Dawn’s. 🙂

    Ingredients:
    2 boxes of brownie mix (If using Ghirardeli brownie mix, omit chocolate chips)
    1 cup chocolate chips
    2–3.4 oz. boxes instant chocolate pudding 
    2 cups sour cream
    2 cups milk
    16 oz. frozen raspberry sauce, defrosted (usually comes in a plastic tub similar to sour cream)
    fresh or frozen raspberries
    2 cups heavy whipping cream
    2 Tbs. powdered sugar


    Directions:

    1. Mix brownies according to instructions on box.  Add chocolate chips to batter.  Cook according to instructions and allow to cool.
    2. In electric mixer, milk and sour cream with the pudding mix. Transfer pudding to another bowl.
    3. Next, beat heavy whipping cream in electric mixer for 2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.  Add powdered sugar.
    4. Slice brownies with sharp knife into small bite sized chunks.
    5. Scatter half the brownie chunks over the bottom of the trifle bowl.
    6. Next, spoon half the raspberry sauce over the brownies.
    7. Then layer half the chocolate pudding, taking care to spread evenly all the way to the sides of the trifle bowl so it looks pretty from the side.
    8. Layer half of the whipped cream on top of the pudding, also making sure to spread all the way to the edges of the bowl.  
    9. Repeat the layers with rest of ingredients: brownie chunks, raspberry sauce, pudding, and whipped cream.  Then sprinkle raspberries over top.  Keep refrigerated.  Use as a reward to your children for eating their veggies!


    Sneaky Smoothie with Spinach

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I can always tell if my kids have had a good one or not by mid-morning 🙂 Smoothies are a GREAT way to sneak in a lot of nutrition. Below is an example of the standard smoothie I make, but you should adjust it with whatever fruits you think might be good!


    Ingredients:
    • 1 Banana
    • 1/2-3/4 cup yogurt
    • a BIG handful of fresh spinach leaves OR a couple golf ball size chunks of frozen spinach
    • 1/2-3/4 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (I buy a huge bag of frozen mixed berries from Costco)
    • 1 package of mango puree (Trader Joe’s sells packages of 4) OR 1 package of Acai berry puree (which I have found at my local health foods store)
    • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed – thought to have many health benefits
    • Other good options: kiwi, strawberries, canned peaches or pears, pineapple

    Directions:
    Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well – add a little water if it is too thick. Serve with fun straws! If the smoothie is for a child drinking out of a sippy cup, just remove the plastic insert in the top so the smoothie can flow more easily…and then put on a bib 🙂

    Pressed Flower Cards or Bookmarks

    April showers bring May flowers! We decided to extend the life of some of our flowers by pressing them and making cards and bookmarks. They make really cute little gifts!


    Age: 3 and up
    Supplies:
    • flowers
    • coffee filters
    • large, heavy books
    • colorful paper for bookmarks or cards (card stock is best, but not necessary)
    • glue
    • contact paper (I found this huge role at Target near the cabinet-lining paper)
    Instructions:

    1. Pick several flowers to press, we removed the stems
    2. Put them between coffee filters or paper towels to help absorb the moisture
    3. Press between large books – place in a safe location so little hands don’t disrupt them 🙂
    4. Check on them in 1 – 2 weeks.
    5. Once the flowers are pressed, it’s time to make cards or bookmarks!
    6. Cut out rectangles for bookmarks or cards with the colorful paper you chose
    7. Arrange flowers and glue in place; allow to dry completely
    8. Once the glue is dry, line both sides with contact paper. Trim sides, if necessary

    Egg Pizza (a.k.a Dinner Fritatta)

    “Egg pizza” just sounds a little more enticing to my kids than “fritatta”.  So that’s what we call it around here.  I just made this one last night, and it was met with great enthusiasm.  I barely had a leftover piece big enough to save for my husband’s lunch.  I like making it because it needs no preparing ahead of time, and many of the ingredients can vary according to what you have on hand.  I just pull the ingredients out of the fridge while I’m heating my pan and whip up this yummy kid-friendly dinner in no time!

    Ingredients:
    12 eggs
    1/2 c. milk
    1/2 c grated cheddar cheese (or 2 Tbs. grated 
          Parmesan cheese)
    1-2 cups spinach, chopped (the more the  
          better!)
    1 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried 
          basil)
    1 Tbs. fresh mint leaves, chopped (optional…we 
          have mint in our garden right now!)
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    2-3 Tbs. olive oil
    6-8 oz. kielbasa sausage, sliced


    Directions:

    1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.  
    2. Whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, spinach, basil, and mint.  
    3. Add oil and onions to skillet and simmer until tender.
    4. Pour egg mixture over onions.
    5. Arrange sausage slices over top.
    6. Cover skillet and allow to cook for approximately 10 minutes, checking sides for doneness with fork.  If sides are cooking too quickly, reduce heat.  Once top is set and edges are light brown, remove skillet from heat.  Enjoy!
    Note: This meal is also great vegetarian style with out the kielbasa!


    Door Hangs



    I started taking care of my nephew this spring, so I have 5 kids on weekdays. Sometimes 2 or 3 kids are napping and the older kids can’t always remember to stay out of those rooms. So, we made cute door hangs to remind us when someone is alseep! Kids could also make these as nametags for their rooms.


    Age: 3 and up
    Supplies:
    • scissors
    • multicolored foam sheets (found at your local craft store)
    • glue
    • black permanent marker (kids markers will just rub off onto your hands)

    Instructions:
    • Cut out a rectangle for the door hang (approximately 3 1/2″ by 8″)
    • Cut out a circle for the door handle (depending on your door knob size)
    • Write something on each side – my kids thought of a frog/tadpole theme
    • Decorate with more foam shapes; glue each piece in place
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