Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day 2012

Happy Leap Day! It's crazy to think that last time we celebrated a leap year, 2 of my babies were not even born yet. It really puts things into perspective. My, how time flies! (No frog-pun intended.)

Today, we celebrated Leap Day by partaking in frog-themed fun. We completed frog worksheets, read lots of frog books, leaped around the house like frogs (Well, the kids did. My pregnant self would probably have flopped around like a fish out of water instead.), listened to frog audio books, ate a frog lunch (No, not real frogs!), and just had lots of froggy fun. 


ham sandwich, marshmallow eyes with food-safe marker pupils, mini-chocolate chip nose, strawberry mouth; strawberries & carrots


Lots of frog reading!



Next time we celebrate Leap Day, we'll have kids who are 10, 7, 6, and 3. I can't even begin to think about my little ones growing up. Leap Year 2016, please take your timing coming!

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Wordless Wednesday 2/29/12


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Tasty Tuesday: Buttermilk Pancakes and Fruit-Flavored Syrup


 
Happy National Pancake Day! (I love when food holidays fall on Tuesdays. It just works out so nicely.)  My family absolutely loves pancakes. I could live without them though. I don't really know why I don't care for them much anymore. I can remember being in high school and being at restaurants with my friends. I used to drink the syrup straight from the little packets. Three? Four of them? Yes, I had a sweet tooth even then. Now, if I eat a single pancake when I make them for the kids, I'll eat it with just plain ol' butter. I don't get it. 

I also don't understand how someone who makes just about everything from scratch (that's me!) can consistently make pancakes from a mix. Maybe it's because I don't really eat them. Maybe because it's so fast and easy to whip up a batch for breakfast during the week. Maybe because the kids don't notice a difference. Whatever the reason, I rarely make them from scratch. I also almost always make them on the griddle instead of in a pan. They're not as crispy and not nearly as pretty, but cook so much faster.

Now that I've finished my pancake confession, let me admit that I've never made syrup either. (Don't worry, I understand if you've lost all respect and stop reading now.) I was planning to make maple syrup but forgot to buy extract. Not a problem. I have a day-by-day calendar with kitcheny tips. A few days ago, there was a recipe for syrup made from a JELLO packet. Fruit-flavored syrup it was.


The hardest part was deciding on a flavor. Orange, strawberry-kiwi, cranberry . . . We settled on black cherry.


Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.


 Cook until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.


 Let cool slightly before serving.


While the syrup is cooking, mix your dry ingredients for the pancakes.

Actually, you first need to combine the milk and vinegar so it can sour (turn to buttermilk.) I forgot to get a picture of that step though. Forgive me?


 Add the remaining wet ingredients to the milk mixture. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix well. 


 Pour 1/4 cup batter into a hot, greased skillet.


Cook until you see bubbles forming on the surface and flip with a spatula to cook other side.


These pancakes are sooo good! Even without butter. Or syrup. Or anything. They still don't make me a pancake-lover, but I do wonder why I rely on the mix so often.


 The kids aren't satisfied with naked pancakes though. They couldn't wait to try the new syrup.


And the verdict??? They loved it! Jake calls it our new "wild syrup" and said over and over again, "This is really yummy!" I guess so, because they ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He kept saying, "But it's National Pancake Day." I created a monster. I figured it wouldn't hurt for them to eat pancakes 3 times a day for 1 day a year. (It does fall only 1 day a year, right???)

And this morning, his request for breakfast? Pancakes with wild syrup. I think it's a winner.




Buttermilk Pancakes
Ingredients:
3/4 c milk                                                           1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs white vinegar                                           1 egg
1 c flour                                                              1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs white sugar                                              2 Tbs butter, melted
1 tsp baking powder                                           cooking spray
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions:
1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour."
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg, vanilla, and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula and cook until browned on the other side.


Fruit-Flavored Syrup
Ingredients:
1 box (3 oz) fruit-flavored gelatin                         1/2 c sugar
1 c water                                                               2 Tbs cornstarch

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Pour syrup in a pitcher and let cool slightly before serving. Store extra in the refrigerator. Syrup will solidify as it cools; reheat as needed.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All About Reading - Review


We've had the opportunity to review some pretty neat things this year, but this is definitely one of my favorites. All About Reading is a fully comprehensive reading curriculum. It's a scripted program developed for busy parents, teachers, and tutors who want to teach reading in the most effective way possible.

There are 5 key components of reading, all of which are thoroughly taught with this program:
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Phonics and Decoding
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension



It was like Christmas when I opened the box and started removing our goodies. All 3 kids came running over, oohing and aahing at the contents. We received All About Reading Level 1 (currently $99.95) and the Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit ($48.95). 

The Level 1 kit includes the following items: 
  • Level 1 Teacher's Manual
  • Level 1 Student Packet
  • Run, Bug, Run! decodable reader
  • The Runt Pig decodable reader
  • Cobweb the Cat decodable reader

Along with the level kit, you'll need either the Basic or Deluxe reading interactive kit. Like I said, we received the Deluxe, which includes the following:
  • Letter Tiles (to be used on a magnetic dry erase board)
  • Magnets for the Letter Tiles
  • The Basic Phonograms CD-ROM
  • Reading Divider Cards
  • Reading Review Box
  • Reading Tote Bag
  • Star stickers for your child's progress chart
 
This is a phenomenal reading program! It's truly multisensory, teaching the child through sight, sound, and touch. It contains no gaps. And other than a little bit of prep work before starting (separating letter tiles and adding magnets & pulling apart the sound cards), it requires no daily preparation from the teacher. The readers are hardcover, quality books that will last for many, many years. I've been using this program with my soon-to-be-4-year-old. She is loving it! The letter tiles are probably her favorite, though she's a big fan of the workbook pages, too. Since she's still a little young and just recently started blending sounds to make words, we've been taking it slow. Neither one of us has felt overwhelmed, but instead we're enjoying the experience.
 
 
All About Learning Press also offers All About Spelling, All About Reading Level Pre-1, and All About Reading Level 2. I've heard rave reviews of all of them. If they're anything like Level 1 (which I fully expect them to be), I can see why everyone loves them. In fact, I plan to check out the spelling kits myself.   

If you're looking for a reading curriculum that is fun for the student, easy for the teacher, completely worth the money, and fully comprehensive, I definitely recommend All About Reading.
 
 
For more reviews of this product, check out the TOS Crew blog HERE.
 
 
* I was given All About Reading Level 1 and the Deluxe kit in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Make It Monday: Polar Bears


Happy Polar Bear Day! The kids and I are really enjoying celebrating the silly and random holidays. So many times they'll ask when they wake up in the morning, "What national day is today?" There's just something fun about taking the time to enjoy the little things in life. Like polar bears. Not that they're little in size, but little as in not a big part of our life - thank God! One, they're too big to keep in an aquarium, which is about the only pet I want in my house. And two, I don't want to live in the cold region of the polar bears. However, that did not stop us from celebrating their cuteness. 


Here's our cast of characters: pipe cleaners, googly eyes, glue, pencil, construction paper, pom-poms, cotton balls, and a bowl.  This craft is so versatile though that you can use any supplies you have on hand. 


 Use the pencil and bowl to draw a template for the bear's head.


 Gently stretch the cotton balls to make them light and fluffy.


 Cover your circle in a thin layer of glue.


Fill in the circle with the cotton balls. Add 2 cotton balls for ears.

Little Zac did not care for this part. Every time he'd try to place a mush of cotton, he'd get glue on his hand and some of the cotton would stick to him. He was not thrilled with the "pider web" on his hand.


Bend a piece of pipe cleaner into the shape of a smile and glue it on the face. The polar bear's face, not your face. Please, flash your own smile.


Stop to play with the bag of cotton balls.


 Glue on a pom-pom nose and googly eyes.


Look at the cute, fuzzy polar bears! We're out of big googly eyes, and Jake thought the size we have is too small. He used white pom-poms and drew eyeballs on with a black marker. Part of the fun of crafting is making it your own! These little guys are hanging on the wall in our kitchen. Hmm, maybe that's why it's a little chilly in here . . . 


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Monday, February 27, 2012

K5 Learning - Review

 


K5 Learning is an online learning program for students in kindergarten - 5th grades. It includes 4 programs in 1 - reading, spelling, math, and math facts. K5 Learning is not a full curriculum, but instead is to be used as a supplement source.

  • K5 Reading helps kids become strong readers and develop a love of reading. This award-winning program covers phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension. 
  • K5 Spelling is an advanced vocabulary program which improves language skills one word at a time. We feature adaptive instruction, automatic word generation, an optimized visual interface, and a 150,000+ word database. 
  • K5 Math is an award-winning program which builds self confidence and a deep understanding of math concepts. K5 Math covers numbers and operations, geometry, measurement (including time and money), algebraic thinking and data analysis.
  • K5 Math Facts uses adaptive technology to help kids develop instant recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Progress on each and every math fact is monitored until mastery is obtained.


Alyssa (3 yr) and Jake (6 yr) enjoyed practicing facts with K5 Learning. Since Alyssa is so young, she started right at the beginning and is doing well with her lessons. Jake is a little older and can already read, so he took the assessment test to ensure proper placement in the program. Any time that he can skip ahead is exciting to him! The students can see their results at the end of each lesson. This visual aid makes it easier for them to see their progress. Also, there are detailed reports in the parent's section to see how each child is doing.


Pricing options are as follows:
Monthly Subscription                                                  Yearly Subscription
First child - $25                                                           First child - $199 
Additional children - $15                                             Additional children - $129

They even offer a FREE 14-day trial to see if K5 Learning is right for your family or you can try sample lessons.  There is also a very helpful video tour that explains exactly how to use the program. For more information, visit their website at www.k5learning.com.


You can read more TOS Crew reviews of this program HERE.


* I was given a temporary subscription in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reading Eggs - Review


The kids have a new favorite game - Reading Eggs! It's full of online reading games and activities for kids ages 3-7. (Children that have more experience reading and can tackle early chapter books might benefit from Reading Eggspress, which is geared toward kids ages 7-13.) The review was originally set-up for Alyssa (3 yr) to play, but Jake (6 yr) saw just how much fun she was having that I set-up a trial account for him as well. He took the placement test to ensure that he started at the appropriate level and didn't have to waste time doing activities that were way too simple. He thought it was so cool that he got to skip the first 6 maps and 60 lessons!

As the students progress through the lessons, they earn golden eggs that can be used to purchase various items. They also unlock places such as My House, Puzzle Park, and Driving Tests. Usually, these are the aspects that draw my kids into learning games. They love dressing up their character, buying new outfits, getting new pets, and the like. Reading Eggs has kept their interests though with just the fun games! They ventured into the Playroom once or twice, but headed right back to the lessons. Major plus in my eyes. 




They also have printable activity sheets that correspond to each lesson. The students practice tracing and writing the letters, matching the letter sounds to words, coloring pictures, reading sentences and matching them to the appropriate pictures, and much more. My kids have really enjoyed this hands-on part as well.

The only thing I have not liked about this program is that the volume level is not consistent. I cannot have the kids playing while my 2-year-old is napping. Otherwise, I have to stand next to them and constantly change the sound up - down - up - down, depending on which activity they are doing. For instance, when the ant, your guide of sorts, is talking the volume needs to me quieter. When you hear just the woman's voice, the sound needs to be turner louder in order to hear properly.



Reading Eggs has a few different purchasing options:
Monthly Subscription - $9.95
6 Month Subscription - $49.95
1 Year Subscription - $75.00
* Add a second or third child and receive 50% off their subscription price.

They also have other products for sale like book packs, activity books, and flashcards. Reading Eggs offers all the tools your child needs to learn how to read and how to continue to improve. We've loved our subscription to Reading Eggs. A program that has my children begging to play and wanting to learn is a winner to me!


You can read other TOS Crew reviews HERE.

* I was given a temporary subscription in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 
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Pantry Surprise 2/25/12

I had a basket or two of laundry dumped out on the living room floor, and all three kids were "helping" me fold it. Zac mostly just likes to jump and roll in the clothes, which is a pet peeve of mine. He'll stop and then play with random articles of clothing. The older two were working on socks. Jake's folded socks were more like balls instead of tubes. Alyssa does pretty well at folding most things. She loves helping me, and I love when she does. There was a day when I'd go behind and "fix" the things they had folded - wash cloths with edges that weren't lined up, shirts with sleeves that were uneven, socks that were mushed into a half-folded/half-rolled ball. I've realized though, that they are learning valuable skills. They're strengthening fine motor abilities, gaining independence, learning life skills, and building a sense of accomplishment. Those qualities are more important than having pants that are folded perfectly. 

Whether or not they help me fold the laundry, it is their responsibility to put their piles of clothes away (except for 2-year-old Zac.) If they change outfits during the day (which they love to do, especially girly-girl Alyssa), it is also up to them to fold those clothes and put them away. 

We finished folding and putting everything away and went on with our day. It wasn't until a couple hours later that I opened the pantry door. I found something I've never seen in there before. Apparently not all the clothes had been put in their proper places. Sitting in the middle of the pantry was a pair of underwear. Where's the picture, you ask? Oh, let's just say it didn't belong to any of the kids, and I didn't think it would be appropriate to plaster my unmentionables all over the internet (though it might increase my stats!) Remember I said Zac likes to play with the clothes while I'm folding them? That certain item was one that he had chosen and had apparently wandered off with them. Little Stinker. Zac that is. Ahem. 

Let's just hope that he doesn't do something like that again when we have company over, because in Jake's words, "that would just be awkward." 

You can catch up on all Pantry Surprises here.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile 2/24/12

1. Jake: "I want to be a daddy when I grow up. I'm not sure what else I want to be though. I just want to be whatever God wants me to when I grow up."

2. If the kids leave food sitting out too long and it gets stale, I throw it out to the squirrels and birds. The other day, Zac had taken a few bites out of a doughnut (my dad sometimes gives us the leftover doughnuts from his Chiropractic office) and let it sit on the table for hours without touching it. Since the doughnut was already a day or so old, I didn't mind and just threw it out the front door. A while later,  Zac was looking out the front window. I heard him yell, "No, squirrely! No eat my doughnut!!!" 

3. Alyssa woke up one morning with a raspy voice. She talked to me for a minute and then looked very confused. "My voice doesn't sound like me."  

4. Playing a Spiderman video game while wearing a Batman shirt and spy sunglasses

5. I was talking to Leighton when Zac sneezed. I didn't respond, so he reprimanded me, "Say, 'bess me,' Mommy."

6. I love watching my kids play together. Jake is such a great big brother. All Zac has to ask is "Bub-bub, make my train, please?" And Jake will set the track up.
 
7. I wasn't feeling very well one day and did not feel like dirtying my food processor to make biscuits for dinner, giving me more dishes to wash. I grabbed a can of refrigerated crescent rolls that I picked up a few weeks ago for a certain recipe that I never made. Leighton said he didn't even know that we had refrigerated rolls since I haven't really bought them in a year or so. As we were sitting down for dinner, Jake said, "Heeeey, I remember these." Yeah, it's been a while.

8. Jake: "I weigh almost 60 pounds."
Me: "Hmm, I don't think so."
Jake: "It says 4-0."
Me: "That's 40."
Jake: "I know. I said almost 60."


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 2/22/12


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Tasty Tuesday: Glazed Doughnuts

We didn't make paczki for Fat Tuesday like we did last year. So sad, I know. But don't worry - we did make doughnuts! Yummy, delicious, comparable-to-that-famous-doughnut-shop doughnuts! 

Yeah, they're that good.


I had been wanting to make doughnuts for ages now. Leighton looked for a doughnut cutter for Christmas, but couldn't find any. I found the one I want on Amazon, but who wants to pay shipping on a $5 item. I added it to my cart a month ago, waiting until I purchase something else too. It's still sitting in my cart. We don't order online very often. I wasn't going to let my lack of fancy doughnut cutter keep me from making delicious doughnuts on Fat Tuesday though. No way! I just compromised and used my biscuit cutters. Not quite as easy, not quite as pretty, but they got the job done.



The recipe gives directions for proofing the yeast and mixing the dough in a bowl. But why go through all that work though when you have a bread maker???  I just had the kids dump the wet ingredients in the pan, followed by the dry, and finally the yeast. Ninety minutes later, and our dough was ready for step 3.


I rolled the dough out on a floured surface, being careful not to overwork it. Then, I used my 3 inch biscuit cutter to make the doughnut and my 1½ inch cutter to make the center.


I transferred the doughnuts and the holes to floured parchment paper. They rose covered on the counter for 90 minutes before I moved them to the oven to finish. I let the oven warm to 200° for a few minutes and shut it off. I placed the doughnuts inside for 10 minutes. Normally, it would take about an hour for the dough to double in size while sitting on the counter. Normally - as in if your house is warmer than 68°.


I talked Leighton into frying the doughnuts for me. I figured it was fitting since I was teasing him about taking control of the funnel cakes we made. (We made them again this past weekend for a banquet at church. He fried and I de-greased and helped with toppings.) The electric skillet is perfect  to use since it keeps a constant temperature. Just make sure you don't put too many in at a time and drop the temp, making them cook unevenly.

Also, make sure you very, very, very carefully place the dough into the oil. Otherwise, the doughnut will deflate, leaving an ugly flat blob. Tasty, yes; pretty, no. 

It was my job to coat the doughnuts. Some I dipped just the tops in the glaze and covered with sprinkles. Others I used a slotted spoon to fully coat  with glaze. 

The kids had fun coating the doughnut holes in a cinnamon/sugar mix.

As soon as the first doughnut made it to the racks to cool, all 3 kiddies started begging for one. And can you blame them? The fresh, warm doughnuts melt in your mouth and are absolutely delicious! You could easily eat 3 or 4 without even realizing it. The consistency and flavor truly resemble Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The kids and I love them fully coated in the glaze, but Leighton thinks it's a bit much.  It could be because I added only half the water in order to keep it thicker, thus causing more glaze to remain on the doughnuts, but most likely it's because he's more of a savory guy. The rest of us will take one any which way we can! We've already talked about next time we make them.

Mmm, next time. 



Make these and you will not be disappointed! Unless you eat the whole batch by yourself. Then you might be a wee bit disappointed in your waist size. But the doughnuts themselves will not let you down! 



* I halved the doughnut recipe, but forgot to halve the glaze. We ended up with plenty glaze left over. The dough made 12 full-size doughnuts and 20 doughnut holes. The original recipe is below.

Yeast Doughnuts
Dough Ingredients:
2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast or 4 1/2 tsp                  2 eggs
1/4 c warm water (105 to 115 degrees)                                      1/3 c shortening
1 1/2 c lukewarm milk                                                              5 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c white sugar                                                                     vegetable oil for frying
1 tsp salt        

Glaze Ingredients:
1/3 c butter                                                                               1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c confectioners' sugar                                                             4 Tbsp hot water or as needed

Directions:
1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
2 In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double. Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter. Let doughnuts sit out to rise again until double. Cover loosely with a cloth.
4. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in hot water one tablespoon at a time until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery. Set aside.
5. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Beeyoutiful - Review


My father is a chiropractor. In a world where people run to the doctor and take medication after medication, I grew up using home remedies, vitamins, herbal substances, and chiropractic care. I watched my friends get many sicknesses (colds, flu, etc.) as I remained healthy. Coincidence? I believe God deigned our bodies to heal themselves and gave us natural remedies to aid the process. (I am thankful for those times when medication and intervention are truly needed.) Now that I have my own children, I'm raising them with that same philosophy. I've read that the average child gets 10-12 colds a year. A year! My kids? A whopping 1-2 and it's over after a few days. How is that? Because we're super-humans? No, despite what my son believes. Because we're hermits who never ever leave the house? Not hardly. It's because we use the resources God has given us. 

I was so excited to review some products from Beeyoutiful, a company devoted to producing natural products.They sell "nutritional supplements, natural skin care, and other items that promote a healthy lifestyle."


One product we reviewed was the all natural lip balm in peppermint (also available in orange.) The moisturizer glides on and has the slightest hint of a tingle. The peppermint scent is not overpowering, but is light, airy. It leaves your lips feeling silky for longer than most lip balms. An added bonus is that there are only 4 ingredients, all which heal and nourish the lips as they moisturize: grape seed oil, shea butter, beeswax, and peppermint essential oil. It retails for $3.00. Coming from someone who hates having naked lips, this product is wonderful!




The other product we reviewed is the tension tamer ($11.00 for 0.33 fl oz bottle.) This is the "ultimate de-stressor!" I really have no need for this product since I have absolutely no stress at all in my life. Was that statement sarcastic enough? {smile} It's used to reduce pain, relieve tension, and combat headaches. While I don't get headaches, I do experience some tension with 3 children while being 7 months pregnant. If I felt myself feeling overwhelmed, I just rolled the solution on my wrists and behind my ears. I'm not sure what exactly it does, but taking a few seconds to breathe in the relaxing fragrance definitely calms you. Again, it's made of natural ingredients: expeller pressed jojoba oil, expeller pressed sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, eucalyptus essential oil, peppermint essential oil, wintergreen essential oil. It can also be used on children. One day, my 2-year-old was having a melt-down. I grabbed the little bottle, rolled it behind his ears, and watched him instantly stop crying. I'm sure it was more because it was a little cold and because he was trying to figure out what mommy just did. Hey, whatever the reason, it worked!


Beeyoutiful offers a wide variety of products for both adults and children. I'm already working on my own wish list. They offer quality products at reasonable prices. So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to Beeyoutiful.com and place an order. You're immune system will thank you.



Still not convinced? Stop by the TOS Crew blog and read more reviews HERE.



* I was given these products in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile 2/17/12

1. Zac gave me one of Alyssa baby dolls to hold. A few minutes later, he pulled it from my lap. "No, baby. That my seat."

2. Alyssa drew a picture of Leighton and me and made sure we were holding hands. I love that that's how she sees her parents, holding hands and in love.

3. Zac handed me his socks and said, "I don't want my sockies on. I too busy."

4. Celebrating Valentine's Day.

5. Alyssa: "Does no mean no and yes mean yes?"
Me: "Yes."
Alyssa: "See, Jake? I was right!"

6. For the past 2 weeks, Zac has said many times, "I see your baby?" I'll show him my belly, and he'll ask, "I kiss your baby?" This little one is already very loved.

7. Alyssa: "I was a girl baby, not a boy baby.

8. I cooked a chicken on our rotisserie for dinner one night. All 3 kids love eating the legs. I don't know if you've ever noticed this or not, but chickens have only 2 legs. That is a problem. We need to start buying mutated 3-legged chickens. That would solve matters. Anyway, after hearing, "I want a leg!" 11 or 12 times, this was the conversation that took place:
Jake: "Is there a nugget part?"
Leighton: "What do you mean?"
Jake: "You know, a nugget part. Like a chicken nugget."


Smile!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday 2/15/12


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Tasty Tuesday: Shortbread Sandwich Cookies



We made these cookies for Valentine's Day, but as with so many recipes and crafts, they can easily be adapted to fit any occasion. 


 Aren't they pretty? They're fairly simple to make. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time before starting them since there's a lot of inactive time involved.



 First thing's first - make the dough.


Once the flour is mostly combined, it's easier to use your hands to fully incorporate the dough into a ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. 


 Use your muscles to roll out the chilled dough on a floured surface.


Then cut out your shapes and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer for another half hour.


Use a smaller cutter (does not have to be the same shape) to cut a hole in the center of half the cookies.

Jake got excited at this part because he remembered the stained glass candy cookies we made a few months ago. We didn't fill them with candy pieces this time though.

Instead, we filled the baked and cooled cookies with strawberry jam and . . .


Nutella! Yummy!

Surprisingly, I liked the jam-filled cookies better than the Nutella ones. The hazelnut-chocolate flavor was lost in the buttery-goodness of the cookies. In order to really taste it, you have to add a lot of Nutella. And that's just fine by me too. The cookies though, are pretty delicious all on their own. I could barely keep the kids from gobbling them all up before I could assemble them. They loved eating the tiny heart cookies cut from the centers. There's just something irresistible about cute, little desserts, especially when they're really yummy! 

They make a perfect Valentine treat and are even great for weddings or anniversaries. I think it would be fun for practicing shapes with toddlers, too. You could make the cookies into various shapes and use a different shape for the cut-out in the middle. Hey, any excuse to make cookies is a legitimate reason for me!



Shortbread Sandwich Cookies  
Ingredients:    
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c confectioners' sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
jam

Directions:
1. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla with a mixer. Beat in flour and salt until just combined. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with a approximately 1 3/4-inch scalloped cutter, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; place in the freezer to harden for 30 minutes. Cut out heart shapes from half the cookies, then return to freezer for another 15 minutes.
3. Bake at 325° for 11-13 minutes or until just before cookies begin to brown around the edges.
4. Shortly before serving, spread scant 1 teaspoon jam on whole cookies; gently top with cut-out cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Finished cookies can sit at room temperature up to 3 hours.

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