Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Fun: Crafting and Shopping

Today we went over to see Brad's mom, Grandma Norma and guess what she had planned for ER to do, an early Easter craft! Guess this weekend will have to go down as a craft filled one since ER got to get her craft on with all three grandparents. They enjoyed decorating foam egg shapes with self-stick Easter themed foam stickers, we're going to use them as place cards for our Easter Sunday family meal. What fun, to include ER in the decorations Grandma. This is a simple and fun craft for even the youngest, it's so nice that all the innovations in crafting material make things fun without the mess.

Meanwhile, Brad and I escaped for a few hours to go shopping for my birthday present! What fun and it's all Noelle's fault, as she did a post on the new fabrics at Vera Bradley. Ever since seeing them, they've been on my mind. I just had to have something in the fun purple punch print, I got it in the mailbag style which doesn't look that big online but is quite roomy. I love how it has multiple zippered pockets, one of which as slots for your credit cards so I can use that hidden pocket as my wallet and eliminate one thing I have to carry, and how the strap can be adjusted so I can wear it across my body. Can't wait to get it on the 13th!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fun with the Grandparents

Thanks everyone who sent along the sorry you're a klutz and get better wishes! Ha, ha, one actually said that, everyone was very sweet and I appreciated all bloggy love! That's how I felt about it, so clumsy! I am feeling a lot better now, the ankle still felt tender earlier on but now I'd say I'm back to nearly 100%.

In this household it's not just me who's loves reading blogs. I just have to share this cute little story, I had pulled up 4 Crazy Kings and was reading the latest post when next to me I hear this squeal of excitement, "Ooooohhhh ELEPHANT!!! My elephant, I make elephant. I make right NOW!"

It was ER looking at the cute tissue paper elephant craft Mama King had turned her daughter's tissue paper collage into. She was going crazy over it, and wanted to stop everything right then and there to do it. I could relate, I've felt that way too when blog surfing! She definitely takes after her Mama.
Today when Grammy, Papa, and Uncle Dave came over I decided to recruit them for craft time. I was joking about how many adults it took to help one two year old, as all four or us were standing around watching her, no wonder she thinks the world revolves around her! Grammy helped her with the tissue paper, gluing everything down. Our tissue paper collage is still drying, but she's excited for me to cut it out in the shape of an elephant so we can hang it up. Then it was Papa's turn to supervise stamping. Can I just say I LOVE these stamp pads and stamps, which unfortunately have been discontinued, from Lakeshore Learning, that's my favorite teaching supply store. I've been using these stamp pads my entire teaching career. They are big and the perfect size for little ones, and unlike on the dinky normal sized pads the kiddos can ink an entire stamp in one go. The stamps are big and chunky, and also sized just right for a toddler. I may have to run over and see if the store by my parents has any of the other sets left. ER loves banging away with these.

Travel Felt Board & Giveaway

When I did my bag tag, I mentioned that I was carrying a tub of playdoh and small cookie cutters around as a toddler activity bag. Another great way, to keep little hands occupied is with a travel felt board. That's ER's above, with her latest creation on it.

It's the no sew version. To make, cut a piece of fabric the same size as your piece of felt. Attach iron-on vinyl to the right side of the fabric, then attach double sided fusible webbing to the back side of the fabric and fuse it to your piece of felt. I cut around the edges with a pinking scissors to pretty it up. I fold it up and put it all in a plastic ziploc along with some felt pieces. That's the old version, I decided to change this up a bit so it wouldn't get as much wear from being folded and unfolded repeatedly.


It's not really a board, rather it's a piece of fabric I backed with iron vinyl and then sewed to a piece of felt. The vinyl is essential to keep the backside from getting all dirty, especially at restaurants while we wait for our dinner at fancy shmancy places like Chilis, because I really don't want every meal out to come on a plastic tray!

To make one is really simple and I've improved the design since making mine to include a ribbon closure:
Cut a piece of fabric to the same size as your piece of felt, I just used the very inexpensive felt sheets that come pre-cut. They are the perfect size for rolling up and keeping in your bag without taking up too much room.Cut piece of iron on vinyl to the same size as your fabric. Follow the directions on the package and iron onto the right side of the fabric. Let it cool off before moving on.

I found iron-on vinyl sold by the roll in a plastic bag on the notions wall at Joann's Fabric, a large nationwide fabric and crafting retailer. Watch for special sales where the entire notions wall is 40-50% off and same yourself some money!
Pin and sew vinyl covered fabric to felt, with vinyl covered side facing the felt. Before beginning attach ribbon.

On one side pin a piece of ribbon folded in half so that the loose ends are sandwiched inside between the vinyl covered side of the fabric and felt. Leave a bit of the loop formed when folding the ribbon in half sticking out between the pieces of fabric. When you are sewing around your "board" catch the ribbon and sew firmly into place by sewing over, back-stitching, and then forward stitching over it. This will become your tie.

Turn inside out and sew opening shut. My beginner skills are evident by the obvious stitching up the bottom right side on the one above but it still looks cute all rolled up! Use fabric scraps to make the felt shapes and you're in business! Your toddler is kept busy, and when she's all done just roll up the whole thing, tie closed, and now you don't even need a plastic bag to keep it in!Now that was easy, but for an even simpler way to get one, come by ABC and 123: A Learning Cooperative during our first two week kick off starting March 13th, when you can win one along with all the shapes! There will be a give away every day for the first two weeks, so you'll have to keep checking to find out which day this is the prize!

UPDATE: I just learned that this project has been featured on One Crafty Place, how exciting a new button to add to my sidebar! If you have little ones you should visit and see all the great projects featured on this site, where crafts to make a handmade childhood are featured. I also helped her via Twitter look for felt food ideas, guess what my next project might be!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's Raining It's Pouring...I Bumped My Everything and Went to Bed...

Well everyone, I'm just ducking in quick to let ya'll know I slipped on my stairs while going down too fast in my socks. Ouch! My left food came right out from under me. I think I was suspended in air for a second like in the cartoons before I came crashing down. Slid on my back and rear with my leg tucked under me, three-fourths of the way down before I could grab the banister to stop myself. Luckily kiddo had gone down before me and was already at the bottom. I'm kinda banged up.

ER was more upset than me, and was crying hysterically wanting me to hold her and pick her up. I was like kid, I can barely walk and you want me to pick you up! So needless to say, if I don't get around to everyone tonight that's the reason! Good thing tomorrow's post is in the can and scheduled.

Felt Board Fun

Felt boards are a wonderful teaching tool. You can use them for storytelling and to illustrate counting songs by incorporating simple objects cut out of felt or by attaching a piece of Velcro to the back of a graphic that has been laminated. After you have sung a simple song a few times, your child will enjoy singing and "acting" out the song by herself with the felt shapes. Many different concepts can be taught with a felt board, right now we are using it to learn about shapes. I'm deviating from my normal lesson plan format, so it'll be easier to show you how to make one for yourself!

Come on back tomorrow, when I'll show you how you can take your felt board along with you on the road by making a travel version AND tell you how to win one!

If you have an activity you'd like to share go link it up at Katie's A Listmaker's Life, we'd love to see it!
I made a simple felt board to use with ER, wearing last year's bunny ear headband - optional ☺It's just a piece of foam core board cut down into a rectangle, mine is 15X19 but any dimensions will work. I've also seen felt boards made by covering a stretched artist canvas using the same technique. Foam core is sold by the sheet, often the size of poster board but is thicker. Both foam core and stretched canvas can be found at craft stores and both go on sale regularly.I covered it in blue felt, wrapping it around and hot gluing it into place on the backside of the foam core. I didn't attempt to miter the edges because I planned on covering the back up.I ended up hot gluing two sheets of felt to the back to help cover up the yuck. I was going to just cut another piece of the blue felt to cover up the backside, but then I realized I could use different colors of felt to represent different sorting areas and get two activities out of one. For example, she could put all the circles on one side and all the triangles on the other.
We're using it to learn our basic shapes along with colors. I used my Sizzix die cuts to help cut out felt shapes, and save me some work! I gave her all the shapes and let her make a shape picture. She likes doing this a lot, then when it's time to collect them I'll ask her to hand them by a specific attribute such as all the red shapes or all the circles. We also count the various shapes to work on counting and 1:1 correspondence.

Making basic felt shapes and simple pictures for songs is easy. Find a clip art that you like, try to find one with simple lines as you only want the outline anyway. Lay a piece of wax paper on top of it, trace it with a pencil. Cut out template and then pin or hold on top of felt. Cut out of felt.

If you're looking for a St. Patrick's Day counting poem, here's the one I'm going to use next month. I've got shamrocks die cut and ready to go, all you do is sing and add one shamrock on the felt board with each line. Count them up again when you're done.

1 green shamrock, in the morning dew,
Another one sprouted, and then there were two.
2 green shamrocks, growing beneath a tree;
Another one sprouted and then there were three.
3 green shamrocks, by the cottage door;
Another one sprouted,
And then there were four.
4 green shamrocks, near a beehive
Another one sprouted,
And then there were five.
5 little shamrocks, bright and emerald green,
Think of all the luck these shamrocks will bring.

Extention Activities: This is a bit off topic as I'm switching over to language, even though it's math day!

I used to sing a song like the Shamrock one every morning in circle time using the felt shapes. Sometimes the kids would help me add the shamrocks to the board or we'd act out the song with the kids using shamrock puppets on their own. This was easy to do as our school also had a big shamrock die cut, just tape them to a popsicle stick and insta-puppet!

I'd also use the same poem during center time, by writing the poem on sentence strips and putting them in my pocket chart along with shamrock die cuts. The kids would use my special pointer - aka a wood dowel with yet another die cut taped to one end - to point to each word as they read the poem aloud. That's called touch reading. They might also have to count the number of times a certain letter appears in the poem, a quick little way to add the letter of the week into an activity.

After we were done using a thematic poem, each student would get copy of it to put in their song book, just a folder with the clasps to attach paper in the center. After awhile each student had a collection of songs he or she could read. Since most of the poems incorporated a lot of basic sight words, also called Dolch words these became great teaching tools. Sometime a center activity was to read from their song book to themselves or to one another. Great practice that everyone could be successful at, as the nonreaders had memorized the poems and could still proudly point to and say each word.

It was so exciting one day, when one of my little darlings looked up at me and said in a shocked voice, "That says the, just like in morning message." As a special ed teacher you live for those moments!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sisterhood & Cute Blogger Awards

I am so feeling the bloggy love lately! Thank you to two of my followers for recently presenting me with these two awards, I really appreciate them!

Courtney at Sister to Sister, who I just adore because she is always so positive and upbeat and so supportive gave me the Sisterhood Award. She did a guest Tackle it Tuesday at Five Minutes for Mom yesterday and showed off her fab new patterns for baby snugglies that she's adding to her collection of patterns at You Can Make This. She is so creative! Plus she still talks to me, even though I've totally flaked about joining in on her Friday blog party Finish It Friday, she's got the cutest graphic with a UFO "UnFinished Objects" for it. Problem is, I haven't finished anything yet! So if you haven't "met" her yet, what are you waiting for:)

The rules of this award are:
  1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
  2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
  3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
  4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
  5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

You're all super special to me, and I am so excited to be a part of the Sisterhood!!! I wish I could nominate you all, as everyone deserves it! So if you aren't already proudly displaying this on your blog please consider yourself awarded:)

I'm going to highlight ten of my blogging buds who I haven't already awarded or tagged recently for this and the following awards! Congrats girls and have fun adding two new awards to your collection!
  1. Ashley at Domestic Diva's Fancy, can it really be I haven't given her one yet?
  2. Patti at Lady Bugs in the Garden: Hopefully she'll see this, as I can't leave comments on her posts for some reason! The little box for word verification comes up but never has a word it, it just loads forever! Go check her out for beautiful card designs that are so much cooler than my beginner attempts!
  3. Tonja at My Beautifully Chaotic Life: Just met her and already the emails are bouncing back and forth and we're both comment happy on each other's blogs. I just know I've found another sister!
  4. Cheryl at Doug, Cheryl, and Abigail: Because I think she might be an even bigger fan of the Anne of Green Gable's series than I am, and that's saying a lot!
  5. Missy at Simply Red: Another new friend who's an Anne with an E fan, who I can talk craft talk with, and who has a scallop punch and knows how to use it!
  6. Mama King at 4 Crazy Kings: A fellow all grown up Korean adoptee who had really neat and original art projects and fun activities on her blog.
  7. Ashlee at Pretty Partridge: She another One Pretty Thing girl who loves crafting as much as I do. She made the felt toddler bracelets I had featured, only she made them way better as that girl can sew! I am so gonna make her fabric covered photo album, cause I love anything monogramed!
  8. Kris at Jesse Kate Designs is another one of my very talented friends who also designs her own e-patterns and who loves machine embroidery. You should she what she can do here. More importantly, she has been so sweet and supportive ever since I met her AND she's a former teacher so you know I love her!
  9. Nine and Ten are hightlighted below...
I am also thrilled to have been awarded a Cute Blog award from Christine at Life...the Way I See It. She is currently in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia and as an adult adoptee I am avidly following her journey and find learning about adoption during this stage of the game quite facinating, probably cause it's not me on pins and needles! She is also a great artist, and makes the coolest mixed media mosaics in to frames and boxes that are one of a kind and so detailed they have to be seen to be believed, colorful paper frames that are my favorite thing in her shop, and really fun mirrors using recycled pop cans! She is so creative I just can't stand it!

I can't take all - or really ANY of the credit for my blog being cute, I had a great designer Lena at Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates. Who makes the best templates for FREE! I had been looking and looking for a template that said me and this one fit me perfectly. It's exactly what I'd have asked a custom designer to make, and I don't mind sharing it:)

In fact, Kristen at All In A Mom's Life, who needs our help with kid friendly meals for an up coming birthday party AND Mandy at N'Stitches Designs, who made this - so cute it makes me love yellow - hint, hint...BRAD, like my blogger design an awful lot too, so I pass this one along to them!

As always, ladies it's great fun to highlight some of my followers, who are a big part of my life! You can proudly display the awards on your blog and carry on the bloggy love or bask in the glow of being a winner and leave it at that:)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Teach Me Tuesday: Color Dice Game

UPDATE 4/25/09 - I have just added this post to the Works for Me Wednesday weekly blogging carnival, my first time participating: The reason this works for me is because when I do these learning activities with my two and a half year old, I am reminded how lucky I am to be at home with her and how glad I am to be the one teaching her! It is such a joy to see her growth and how after all these activities she is finally becoming more aware of colors.
This week we've been playing a little game that was inspired by the guided reading beach balls I used to use in conjunction with the Building Blocks Literacy Model I used with my kindergarteners. After reading a story, I'd ask one of the questions on one of the sections of the ball and then toss it to one of the kids who then answered it. This was a big hit and since they never knew when I'd bring out the beach balls, they'd pay attention so they'd be prepared to answer the questions just in case.

Keep in mind this one was inspired by those beach balls; it's really quite different and on another learning level completely. As many of you know we're working on colors, and working and working...I am happy to share that several times she's finally been able to correctly tell me the color of an object spontaneously in conversation. She'll be talking and then mention, that no she wants her green plate or something along those lines. Interestingly she's rarely able to identify a color correctly during an a structured learning activity, but I know she's more aware of color names as she's been identifying things by color more and more.

This is called generalization and is actually a very important step to mastering a skill. Meaning that a student can apply the skill in circumstances other than a lesson. When I taught special ed., my students with special needs had an especially hard time with this and is why these students benefit greatly from real life application as opposed to traditional book and worksheet practice AKA drill and kill (some teacher talk thrown in there:). For instance the student when a student is shown ABC flashcards she can identify them by name, but when asked to look at a sign outside cannot. But I digress, back to the subject at hand this week's language activity.

Color Dice Game
Learing Objective: Identify color by name, match by color

Small box
large sheets or neutral colored paper, ours are from drawing pad & two sheets were needed
colored construction paper
a variety of household items and toys
To prepare for this activity: Tape a small box together to form a cube or "dice" shape. Cover with neutral paper. Cover each side of the dice with a piece of colored paper representing the target colors. To give you an idea of the size of our box, I cut the colored paper to about 6x6 inches and then trimmed a bit to fit each side. I did not choose to include pink, as this is the one color my daughter can identify and name consistently - go figure!

  1. Read a color book together to activate prior knowledge and to get your child thinking about colors.
  2. Explain that you are going to play a color game with a really big dice. Demonstrate how to roll dice and have your child roll it a few times, discuss which color show up on top of the dice after each roll.
  3. Begin play by saying, "Did you notice that red is on top? Can you find me something red in the room?"
  4. Your child should then look around the room for an object, toy, picture that has the target color in it. If your child picks a multicolored object, have her point to the target color within it. This was challenging for her, which let me know this is an appropriate activity for her:)
  5. Reinforce color names, "Yes, good for you that bracelet is red just like the top of the dice!"
  6. Continue play for several color searches, below are some of the objects we found while playing.

Green Play AppleOrange Pumpkin Photobook

Modifications: This same concept could be used with letters, write one on each side of a paper dice template. Have your learner give the letter sound for the letter that's on top or say a word that begins with the target letter ex. bat for B. For numbers, write a numeral on each side and have your child count out manipulatives to that number.

I was talking with my partner in crime, Katie at A Listmaker's Life and she noted that since we're both using the free version, Mr. Linky will disappear with all it's links from this post the next time I go to use it, as in this Thursday for 123 Learn with Me. So I'd have to go in and transfer all the links to the bottom of my post before I added Mr. Linky to the next post I want to include him on. So for now, if you've got a learning activity you'd like to share please add a comment on this post with the URL of your activity's post so we can all go by and see it.

And don't forget to start sending us your activities to ABC and 123: A Learning Cooperative too! You can more about that here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Recipe Binder with a Side of Taco Salad

Update: 3/28/09: Katie at a Listmaker's Life just started a weekly meme featuring salads and since I love salads and for long stretches will eat one everyday I had to contribute one. If you're visiting from there please scroll down to the bottom to see it. Thanks for coming by and please say hi the comments so I can return the favor and go visit you too!

This is what I was working on while watching the Oscars, compiling and cute-tifying my recipe collection. Now that we're amassing a collection of tried and true recipes I had to have some place to keep them, because we've already lost one stack of recipes I printed out.

Plus it gave me an excuse to use some of my very favorite paper by K&Company from their Berry Sweet line. I bought a big pad of this stuff and it just makes me happy, I'm so in love with it that I didn't want to use, and use it all up. Silly I know, but since it coordinated with my kitchen colors and theme I can put it out on the counter and see it every day.To create the inside pages I wanted to use up more of my large scrap pile from other projects. For some reason I always seem to have long strips of patterned paper left over. So I made a template that incorporated them, for the recipes in MS Word with a text box, I can change the color easily to match my paper scraps - cute huh, with space for a picture. I also added a bit of the this recipe's history at the bottom.

This is the "star" treatment any recipe that we make and find ourselves going back to again and again will get, once they've obtained "Tried & True" status. I have extra pages in the back with the loose recipes to hang out in during their try out phase. I think this keep us much more organized and tame all the pieces of paper with random meal ideas written on them. I realize a recipe binder is not exactly and original idea, but hey it's a big step forward for us!

Here are some other meal and organizer tools:

Kim at Forever Wherever has a menu calendar and shopping list on PDF you can download. I already told you about the great recipes cards at Lolly Chops but she recently did a guest post at La Fuji Mama and gave us some new flowered one to print out. Then there are the many printables at Tricia-Rennea Art, her March planner pages are posted already if you want to start planning ahead. She also has generic but still cutely illustrated ones, but you have to scroll back through her posts or try looking by label to find them. I just found the Recipe Matcher through Homemaker Barbi, it's this great tool that you can use to find free recipes to match your leftovers. You just type in what ingredients you have and it gives you ideas, isn't that neat-o!

If you know of any other fun ways to organize or free printable to share, leave me a comment so I can check them out!
I also decided to organize my growing collection of templates from various projects like the letter pillow and felt peony. Once I've used them, if I think I might need them again, I'm going to store each one in a sleeve like this. I've got yet another paper scrap, the title and a picture of the project, where I got it from, what I did with it, and room for notes. The templates are behind it. This is especially helpful if you've taken the trouble to enlarge a template, which can be frustrating and require several attempts - at least it is for me. Well who wants to repeat that experience, now I can just save them for next time.

Here's the recipe from above, in case you can't read it due to the size of the photo and glare from the flash bouncing off the page protector.

My Favorite Taco Salad

This one is not creative or hard to make because I don't mix up a little of this and pinch of that to make the taco meat like some do. That might save money in the long run, but I just use a packet and call it a day. What it is, is yummy and it's been made in my family for years. I remember going to family reunions and large bowls of this being put out. I make a healthier version than back in the day by using the leanest cut of beef, reduced sodium taco seasoning, light dressing, and less cheese but even with all those changes I still love it.

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning - we use the Ortega low sodium packet
  • lettuce - we used red leaf lettuce, my favorite variety
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • tomatoes
  • green pepper
  • red onion
  • tortilla chips - use the crumbs from the bottom of the bag
  • Catalina dressing - Mine MUST be Kraft's light
  • and absolutely NO OLIVES, but if you like them I guess you can add 'em


  • Cook and drain beef
  • Follow directions on seasoning packet to make taco meat, this usually involves dumping seasoning packet onto beef, adding water, and stirring
  • While beef was cooking, wash and dry lettuce
  • Cut up remaining vegetables and shred cheese using grater as this tastes much better than the stuff you buy predone in a packet. I'm lazy but even I make time for this!
  • Layer lettuce followed by beef and vegetables (I like mine with A LOT of green pepper and onion), pour on dressing, and crumple chips on top.
  • Mix all up and enjoy, for some reason I like this even better after it's been mixed up for awhile and the dressing has wilted the lettuce a bit.
Find more great ideas on how to make your home a better place and contribute your own at 11th Heaven's Homemaker Monday and at Making a Happy Home Monday.

For recipes and to share one of your own please visit the Tasty Tuesday Blog Party at Forever Wherever and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace. Get great kitchen tips at Tammy's Recipe's weekly Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

And if you've tackled a big task in your life lately, like I did with my stack of recipes go to Tackle it Tuesday at Five Minutes for Mom. This week's guest tackler is my friend Courtney, go see her adorable animal lovey patterns!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Big Read, How Many Have YOU Read?

I was over "meeting" a new follower and I found this post on her blog and was intrigued by it. You know it's the teacher in me coming out. I know I say I only read history books now a days so I thought I'd do pretty poorly, but was still interested to see how well rounded of a reader I am. I did better than I thought, but I do wonder how they came up with this listing, a lot of the books are classics and while I liked reading Da Vinci Code, I don't think anyone would argue that it's in the same category as say Hamlet. This can't be a list of the 100 books written!

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. How do you do?

  • Look at the list and color those you have read.
  • Italicize those you intend to read.
  • Remark on the books you LOVE.
    1. The Book List:

      1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
      2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien: LOVE these, on my all time favorites list and was obsessed by the movies
      3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte: another all time favorite book, even enjoy the sometime horrendous movie versions - do like the one with William Hurt by my fave is the Masterpiece Theater one.
      4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling: These were great and as soon as a new one came out I'd have to stop everything and read it through in a day! Are they the world's best literature, probably not but they did get millions of kids reading and I'm all for that!
      5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
      6. The Bible: Have never read it the whole way through but have read major portions of it, I'm counting it, oddly all those shows on the History channel is what got me into it!
      7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
      8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell: assigned in high school
      9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
      10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
      11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott: Hasn't every little girl, read this followed by Little Men?
      12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
      13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
      14. Complete Works of Shakespeare: I've read almost all of them so I am counting this one
      15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier: Discovered this one in high school and it's a frequent reread
      16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien: Read this years before the Lord of the Ring trilogy
      17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
      18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
      19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
      20. Middlemarch - George Eliot .
      21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
      22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
      23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
      24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy: But why did I bother?
      25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
      26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh.
      27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
      28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
      29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll: Really did enjoy this, a lot more sophisticated that people realize
      30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disney was a big hit with me when little because of this book, although it seemed a lot faster and exciting back then than it did when I went back as an adult.
      31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
      32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
      33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis: Not only have I read them, I have the delux illustrated hardbound edition.
      34. Emma - Jane Austen
      35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
      36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis: Actually my least favorite out of the bunch
      37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
      38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres: Wasn't this a movie with Penelope Cruz?
      39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden: facinated by geisha and that whole way of life
      40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne: Oh yes and now rediscovering it with our little one
      41. Animal Farm - George Orwell4
      42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown: Interesting how he tied in bits of history and made it all very convincing, but really it's a FICTION people, a fun read but NOT history! It's a page turner, try the big illustrated version if your library has it, it's great to read it and see pictures of the works of art and places being mentioned at the same time.
      43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
      44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
      45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
      46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery -My favorite children's series, hands down. Loved each and every one, watched the Canadian production, and plan to visit P.E. Island.
      47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
      48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
      49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding: Forced to read in school, really didn't like it
      50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
      51. Life of Pi -Yann Martel
      52. Dune - Frank Herbert
      53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
      54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
      55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
      56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
      57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens: Another high school read, made it through it because of the French Revolution tie in, a period that interest me. Not my favorite Dickens.
      58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
      59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
      60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez: maybe I'll get to this one day
      61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
      62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
      63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
      64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold: I could not get past the premise
      65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas: Great
      66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac: How'd I manage to avoid this one
      67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
      68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding: Quite fun and light
      69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
      70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville- I can appreciate this book.
      71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
      72. Dracula - Bram Stoker: Stoker was on to something, even though this kind of thing normally creeps me out, it also facinates me and keeps bringing me back to read it again and again
      73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett: Have read and enjoyed many, many, times and still have my childhood copy
      74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
      75. Ulysses - James Joyce
      76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath: I feel like I should have had to read this, how I'd I manage to avoid getting this assigned in high school?
      77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
      78. Germinal - Emile Zola7
      79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
      80. Possession - AS Byatt: Yes go out and read now if you haven't
      81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
      82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
      83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
      84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro: Some find this slow but I really like it, but then again I also like slow British movies like the one based on the book, Howard's End, etc.
      85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert: Read part but didn't finish, can't remember why
      86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
      87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White-
      88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
      89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Yes and my copy is all dog eared!
      90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
      91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
      92. The Little Prince- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
      93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
      94. Watership Down - Richard Adams.
      95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
      96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
      97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
      98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
      99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl: And all his other brilliant books!
      100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

      When I first read over the list quickly at the other blog, I thought I only had forty or so, but upon going over each and everyone, that makes 60 for me and the number's not likely to change any time soon unless the list is updated, so even if you take off the ones that I don't technically have like all of Shakespeare that is still more than half so I'm better read than I thought. I do have to give credit to Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Wagner who are partially responsible as they made me read several back in the day!

      How about you? How many have you read? If I haven't read it and you think I should, convince me!

      Saturday, February 21, 2009

      Card Organizer

      I love making cards and sending them for holidays and "just because" but I am not very good at remembering birthdays or anniversaries. I made these card organizers for my mom and MIL, to help them, even thought I'm really the one who needs one!

      I've made myself one, but I added the names and dates to the reminder lists so I didn't want to publish the personal information of my friends and family. Mine is very similar.

      Now I can make cards ahead of time, file them, have a card on hand, and not have to resort to last minute trips to the card store. Yeah me for getting organized! Now all my handmade cards will actually be sent...on time!
      I started with an 8x8 scrapbook and then made pockets, by folding in and up a 12x12 piece of cardstock, one for each month. Instead of glue, I used flat brads to hold the pocket together on the outer sides so it could expand to hold the cards. The other side is held in place by the posts in the post bound scrapbook. The month title and reminder card I created on my computer, printed out, and attached to each pocket.
      To complete the gift I made twelve cards and put one along with an envelope in each pocket. Now my family can send a handmade card, made with love - even the one's who aren't cardmakers!

      Below are some of the simple cards I made to go in it. My style has evolved, I really wish I knew how to make the really beautifully stamped ones, but I just haven't had the time to learn all the colorizing techniques.

      The card organizer was inspired by a project I saw in Papercrafts, an older issue I cannot locate right now! I am sure the cards were inspired by various sources such as Papercrafts and Cards Magazine but simplified, as they were made when I was just getting into making cards.

      Friday, February 20, 2009

      Bag Tag

      Ashley at Domestic Divas Fancy tagged me in a bag tag way back on the 13th, and this is the first chance I've had to complete and show, what's in my bag. Here are the contents on a "light" day, I think one shoulder may end up being permanently higher than the other from lugging all this stuff around.

      The Bag Details:
      My bag is from Land's End and I actually wrote about it in a previous post. I think it was about forty dollars, which is a splurge when you have a ton of perfectly good bags like I do. But you can never have too many bags! It has the added benefit of being bright and cheery on overcast winter days plus it's huge; as every mommy of a toddler knows that feature is paramount.

      The Contents:
      • Blue Diaper Me Darling: a cute container to carry ER's pull-ups around in, so I don't have to lug a big bag to the restroom or openly carry a diaper with me. It also has a fold up changing mat inside.
      • Wipes Container: with wipes that are good for changes, cleaning off dirty surfaces, and wiping dirty hands
      • Taylor Swift CD: ER loves the Love Story song and sings along. She calls it the princess song. We broke down and bought it for her, which was probably difficult for my husband who's musical tastes run more along the Pantera and Audioslave route. Both of which he has played for ER and "rocked out" with her, um...yeah we needed a more child friendly alternative.
      • Mail Circular Coupons: these are constantly changing but are currently to Gymboree and Children's Place, but I'm having a hard time predicting what size she'll be in for warmer weather so I haven't made any new purchases yet. The cute spring clothes are tempting, but we're under snow advisory for tomorrow so, soooo not necessary right now.
      • Cell Phone
      • Toddler Activity Bag: currently playdoh and cookie cutters, for keeping little finger's busy at restaurants and such.
      • Notebook and Pen: this one has a cool magnet closure and pretty printed pages, a stocking stuffer from my MIL
      • Kleenex
      • My favorite lemon flavored tea mints
      • Toddler Snacks: fruit snacks and teddy grahams, yeah I know not the healthiest but they're what I bribe, oops I mean reward her with when she's good or will sit in the cart when shopping.
      • Spoon: child sized cause a lot of time they're huge at restaurants and because you never know when you might need one
      • Sunglasses
      • Random Hair Clippie: for looking cute on the go
      • Hand Lotion
      • Wallet
      • Dwink: If you've got a toddler who drinks out of drink boxes, YOU NEED ONE. It's a plastic container that the juice box goes into and it prevents your tyke from squeezing the box and sending juice everywhere. Fits nearly every size and kind of drink box.
      • Bib
      • Mittens
      So now that that's taken care of here are the rules:
      1. Post a picture of whatever bag you are today - not last weekend when you and your hubby went out to that fabulous restaurant. No cheating!!!
      2. Tell us how much it cost. This is a no-judgment zone -- there will be no ridiculing or eye rolling here. And, if there is a story to go along with how you obtained it, I'd love to hear it.
      3. Now tag some fellow bloggers and link back to this post so people know why you are posting pictures of your bag.

      I tag:
      • Vickie at Vickie's Scrapbooking and Tidbits, cause I tag her for everything!
      • Noelle at Lil' Bits and Pieces of Me, cause she's a girly girl and probably has her's jammed full of fun stuff
      • Katie at A Listmaker's Life, she has three kids and I've gotta know if she's packin' even more junk, um I mean important and very necessary kiddo paraphernalia than me!
      • Shelia at Pieces of Me, she traded her briefcase in for a diaper bag but her youngest is now three and the other one is six so I'm wondering if she's moved back into cute handbags yet...oh please give me hope for that!
      • Kristen at Baby Steps, most of her posts are about her darling daughters so it'd be nice to know a bit more about her by peeking into her bag.
      • Miss Muffin at Muffins and More, she just had her first feature on One Pretty Thing, so yeah her! She's over in Germany and has posted a bit about the difference between her time in the States and life back in Germany so it'd be fun to see what she's got.
      • Sarah at a Prayerful Driven Life, is so sweet and after reading the story of how she and her husband found a second chance at love it really gave me hope that God has a plan for all of us, including a friend of mine who is really in a tough spot right now.
      Now I couldn't very well tag all 42 of my followers, but really I'd love for you to all consider you self "it". So please jump on in and play along, I think this is a fun way to reveal a little bit more about our daily lives - you can certainly tell who my life revolves around from my bag's contents. But if you're a bit busy or don't have time to participate right now, my feeling won't be hurt!

      Thursday, February 19, 2009

      BIG NEWS!!!

      I have had something in the works that I am SO EXCITED about!!! I'm about to burst, so I just couldn't wait another second to share with everyone!

      This week I started a new thing posting Teach Me Tuesday and 123 Learn with Me Thursday. I wanted to share on a regular basis the simple language and math activities I do with my two year old, and I thought it'd give you all an opportunity share too. I know when we do something neat with our kids, we love to brag about it. I also thought this would be a great idea, because I'd gotten a few emails from some of my blogging buddies with questions about learning activities. You know how it is, the more heads there are working together, the better the ideas!

      Well I've been talking with Katie over at A Listmaker's Life, and we've decided to start a new venture together: ABC and 123: a Learning Cooperative. The idea is to try and compile the great lessons and activities we do with our kids and share them so other parents and educators came come to ABC and 123 to find and share ideas. We're trying to keep things organized by themes, subjects, and loosely by grade levels so it'll be easy to find activities to do with our children when they need help with a particular concept or subject or when you just want to have some fun.

      For this to work, we are going to be searching high and low for great ideas, but we also need participation from you! So if you've got an idea to share please consider sending us an email at We'd love to hear from you, and tell all your friends to send us something too!

      Check out the following links for more information:

      Activities and lessons do not have to written in lesson plan format and can be older activities from your archives, just send us the ideas and activities that have been successful with your kids!

      Right now we're in the find and compile stage, so we'd love your help NOW, and on March 13 - which just so happens to be my 32nd birthday - we're going to have our big kick off! That's when we'll go "live" and begin posting all the lessons but for the first two weeks, on the week days, we'll be giving away a prize a day! So be sure to pop on by then to see the time saver learning activity kits we've put together to help you out that you can win, and please continue to pop on by after!
      Isn't our button cute? Katie designed it, she's so talented! I have no idea how to do that kind of stuff, my DH is my tech support!

      1,2,3 Learn with Me Thursday: Conversation Heart Math

      For my first installment of math related activities I'm sharing in greater depth one of the activities we did at the Valentine play date. I'm sorry if this seems a bit like a repeat of yesterday's post, but we were so busy getting ready for Tuesday's play date, that I just couldn't squeeze in one more new thing for her to try and photograph.

      Remember, next week I'll have a linky up for you to join in on Teach me Tuesday and 123 Learn with Me Thursday. Don't forget to check out the activity for today at Katie's A Listmaker's Life.

      Conversation Heart Math

      This simple math activity can be adapted so it can be used year round. M&M and Skittles candies are a good edible manipulatives to use. Activities that incorporate food, especially the sweet kind are always highly motivating to children!

      Learning Objective: To sort and graph by color, counting
      Materials: color board, graph paper or paper chart, conversation hearts or small colored candies.Procedure:
      Before beginning activity: make a color board by tracing circles on a sheet of paper with colored markers that coordinate with the colors of the candy you are using. You may want to color in the circles and/or write the color word inside of each circle. I have also made these with construction paper die cut circles.

      Give your child a color board and candy conversation hearts. Hold up one at a time and ask your child to identify its color by name or say the color word aloud. Place that candy heart in the correct circle.

      Have your child contine to sort the candies until they are all gone.
      Count how many of each color you have.

      This is where I would end the lesson for my two and a half year old daughter. For more advanced learners I'd provide a color graph. I made mine on MS Word by creating a graph, the cute heart font is by DJ Doodlers.Have you child graph how many of each color he or she has.

      Extension Activity for a Classroom or Small Group: To reinforce the concepts measurement and comparison vocabulary such as: more, less, greatest, least, etc. and to practice graphing in my classroom we would then make a graph of the whole classes results.

      I would have little colored paper squares prepared ahead of time. Each child would take get the color square that represented the color he or she had the most or the fewest. Then one at a time students would come up and speak in a complete sentence using comparative vocabulary. For example: ___ was the color I had the greatest of and ___ was the color I had the least of. I was a stickler for speaking in a complete sentence and not just coming up and mumbling, "Green," or something along those lines. They'd add their colored square to our cooperative graph, and after everyone had a turn, we'd read our chart and come up with descriptions such as, "The greatest number of students more pink candy hearts than any other color."

      If there was time I might also include some whole class writing by using my easel pad of paper and having us write out our descriptions together. This consisted mainly of us deciding what to say, the class helping me write it by coming up with the letter words begin or end with, and some of the students coming up to "share the pen" and write the initial or ending letters. But shared writing is another and complete lesson in and of itself, so I won't go into too much detail now.

      Wednesday, February 18, 2009

      Valentine Play Date Fun

      Yesterday was our much anticipated Valentine themed play date. My friend Margaret came over for the afternoon with her two adorable daughters, who are also my little kiddo's best friends. They are the first girls that ER had play dates with and we've made it a tradition to alternate having holiday play dates between the two houses. Margaret is one of my sorority sisters and best friends. She also a former kindergarten teacher, so we both enjoy coming up with fun activities for the girls.

      The girls are particularly special to me and my husband because when the oldest one was a newborn, I held her and knew in my heart I was ready to have a baby too. Well yesterday that "baby" told me all about her big girl booster seat for the car, sniff...they grow up too fast! Next year she'll be starting kindergarten, it really does go by in the blink of an eye! The younger daughter is only a few months younger than ER so she's also got a piece of my heart because I've been watching her grow up along with my baby.
      The girls were busy the whole time they were here. We started with a conversation heart color sorting activity and color graphing activity for the oldest, as she finished quickly - being an expert from preschool and all! For prizes, we gave them the felt cookies I made packaged in little cardboard take-out boxes.
      Then it was time for some crafting fun, princess style! I had every intention of making little kits myself until I found foam tiaras and wands at the dollar spot in Michael's. What a find, the girls were so happy I think there might have been squealing:) Plus this made it a lot easier for me, one less thing to have to do. I set out the crafts and the girls went to town decorating them with self adhesive foam hearts and swirls. We also embellished mailboxes I got at the Target dollar spot with their first initial and more foam hearts.
      By that time we'd worked up quite an appetite. Pizza making time! Each girl got a Pillsbury biscuit, the kind from a roll that you twist and it pops open, to mash down into a heart shape. Then they covered them in sauce and cheese. The meal was rounded out by cut up veggies with Ranch (a special cause it's a party request from my kiddo), apple slices, and white chocolate covered strawberries. Kaylee at Eat Your Heart Out inspired me to make them last minute, because her looked so good. Mine weren't as pretty, I forgot to add the food coloring!
      Pizzas were always a favorite activity during classroom activities, in fact the kids would only want to make pizza as their party food. I've tried various different ways: with mini pita rounds, English muffins, roll out dough, and hands down the kids liked the biscuits from the can best. Which was fine by me, they are easy cause they come already proportioned in the can and to make them you just follow the directions on the can, it's a good party activity for a parent volunteer to do.
      After lunch there has to be...cookie decorating! What kind of party would it be without an excuse to lick frosting off our fingers?
      Then it was time for our last game, sticker bingo. It's another favorite activity from my teaching days. Each girl got a sheet of stickers and bingo board grid I made on my computer. They made their own board by sticking on the stickers, one in each box, as they liked. I made up a set of calling cards, by putting one of each sticker on a small piece of construction paper. Then they took turns picking up one card at a time and holding it up. A candy conversation heart was used to cover up the matching sticker on each player's board. This is a simple and fun game, because all kids love stickers! It only involved matching picture stickers so even young kids can play it. Each of the girls got a little bag with the felt necklace and hair bows that I made as the prize for playing.

      In kindergarten I would pass out blank bingo boards and have the kids write a letter in each box. At the beginning of the year we'd use them match up letters, then beginning sounds - ex: I'd say apple and everyone with an A would cover it up, ending sounds, etc. You can also use it for math, first be having them match up the number and later on by writing simple addition problems on the board and anyone with the answer on their board being able to cover up. Either way, it's yet another way to get kids who don't like practicing writing a highly motivating way to write. The same concept can be adapted for many grade levels and concepts such as sight words, multiplication tables, telling time, state capitals, etc. Bingo is a very versatile learning game!

      It was nearing nap time, so after good-bye hugs our guests left with their party favors in hand. It was a very busy time for everyone; ER took a nice long nap afterward! Which meant I was able to get everything all cleaned up before my DH got home from work. Whew, that was a lot for one day. I'm glad it's Margaret's turn for Easter's play date.
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