Meal plans, and crafts, and resources, oh my!

Oh my gosh, I just found a great resource that I have to share- Confession of a Homeschooler! Not that I am a homeschooler, but this Nana is hands on and all about giving my grandbabies the best start that I can.

Sometimes it’s hard to break up the same old routine. I’m was most excite about the monthly calendars. They include meal plans, crafts ideas, and themed activities. This girl has you covered. Please check her out.

http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/

Adventures in the big blue house

Owning and maintaining a 130 year old house is more than a labor of love, it’s insanity! My family and I live in a 2800 square foot Victorian style house that keeps us busy and sometimes broke. So far, it has taken us 3 summers of our spare time to scrape, prime, and paint two sides of the behemoth.

We started by power washing the old (badly) peeling paint.  In some areas this took days to accomplish and cleaning up the paint chips was like raking leaves in the fall. Everyone took turns, but my (then 9 years old) son really got into it and spent hours at a time spraying the house. The paint was in such bad shape it was easy to keep the water turned down to a safe level for him to work with.

Some of the original wood siding just could not be saved so my husband spent several days tearing out and replacing the damaged areas. Of course it rained right after finishing the worst area so the caulk ran!

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Although we splurged and bought 2-in-1 primer and paint, there was a lot of bleed through. It took 3 coats to get a nice even appearance.  I had originally decided to go with a Painted Lady color scheme, but  the highlight color was so bright (I actually cried when I saw it from a distance the first time) that it was painted over in a nice white.

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We’ve had mixed reviews on my choice of body color. I have actually had people stop me at the grocery store and ask if I live in the big blue house and then tell me how much they love (or hate) the color. When ever I give people directions I always tell them, you can’t miss it!

house

 

There have been several projects over the 3 years since moving in. I can hardly wait to share them with you!

 

Off brand bust

I love saving money. Several years ago I stopped being a brand snob and tried store brands. Generally speaking, store brands continue to surprise me with better than expected taste and quality. For example, I have found most store brand condensed soups are as good as or better than the leading brand. Walmart, Aldi, Save-a-lot, and IGA are a few of my favorites.

Inevitably, I have  come across a few products that even the dog won’t eat. Recently, I tried Aldi’s Millville Crispy Oats cereal. The picture on the box looks just like a bowl full of Cheerios. After several days of my 13 month old granddaughter spitting them out and/or throwing them on the floor, I decided to try them myself. Yuck! The moment I poured milk over them, they were a soggy mess.I personally couldn’t get more than one bite down.

Image result for images Millville crispy oats

Never one to give up, because of my aversion to waste, I decided to salvage the situation by making the recipe on the back of the box for Millville Caramel Crunch Bars.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups Millville Crispy Oats cereal
  • 1 14-ounce bag caramels, unwrapped
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup candy-coated chocolate candy
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Chocolate Topping:

  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons shortening

Directions:

  1. Coat a 9×13 pan with butter. (I used wax paper.) In a large bowl, combine cereal, marshmallows, candy-coated chocolate (I used M&M’s), and peanuts.
  2. In a microwavable bowl, combine caramels and water.Microwave on HIGH for 2-4 minutes, stirring each minute until smooth. Pour caramel over cereal mixture, gently stirring until coated. Press mixture into pan using a buttered spatula.
  3. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate and shortening for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Spoon over bars. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour or until bars are set.

Makes 36 bars. Store loosely covered.

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I’m sad to say, my expectations for making use of a bad box of cereal were not met. Though the bars smelled great, they never got solid enough to form bars and the grandbabies still wouldn’t eat them.

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Next time I’ll buy the real deal (Cheerio’s). I might try making a few adjustments to the recipe and giving the cereal bars another shot. Do you have any off brand hits or misses? I’d love to hear from you!

 

In the kitchen with little hands

I’m silly enough to let the grandbabies make a mess in the kitchen and confident enough they can’t make a mess that I can’t handle! Last week we made pumpkin playdough. It was super easy and smelled great. It’s even edible, but it’s not as good as it smells. Thanks, Bean, for being the guinea pig!

All you need is a large mixing bowl, a whisk, one can of pumpkin, one canister of cornstarch, and some pumpkin spice. Start by whisking the pumpkin until smooth.

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Add about 2 tsp. of pumpkin spice and blend it in.

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Slowly add 3 cups of cornstarch (about 1 cup at a time) continuing to mix well.

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Eventually you might have to start kneading the mixture by hand. If the playdough is too sticky you can add a little more cornstarch. If it’s too dry add some water.

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Store in an airtight container. My playdough only lasted about 5 days before it molded-gross! I suggest refrigerating it, but can’t say it will last more than a week since it’s food based and you want to be safe. My little ones played with the yummy smelling playdough for an hour the first day. This is a great activity for kids with sensory issues. It builds self confidence since they can make it almost entirely by themselves and exposes them to math skills in a fun and easy to understand way.