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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mess-Cipes for Face Paint

 "Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they're looking for ideas."

- Paula Poundstone

     What could be a more interesting canvas that a little one's own face? Here are several recipes for face paint that can all be removed with soap and water, or tissues and cold cream.  Let kids paint themselves or each other!

Shortening-Cornstarch Face Paint
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons cornstarch
bowl and spoon 
separate cups 
food coloring
translucent powder
     Mix shortening with cornstarch.  Separate into small portions and mix with different colors of food coloring.  Use small make-up brushes, paint-brushes, or Q-Tips to apply face paint.  Pat designs on face with trasluscent powder to "set."

Shortening-Flour Face Paint
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon flour
1 drop of food coloring
muffin tin
     In one section of a muffin tin, mix together shortening, flour, and food coloring. Repeat to make several colors in the muffin tin sections.  Use a finger to paint the face.

Thick Face Paint
2 teaspoons solid vegetable shortening
5 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon white flour
small bowl and spoon
4 drops glycerin (found at drug stores, laxative or "skin emollient.")
food coloring
powdered cocoa (for brown face paint)
     In a small bowl, mix shortening, cornstarch, and white flour.  Add glycerin.  Stir to a creamy consistency. Divide into small portions and color with food coloring or cocoa for brown face paint.  Apply with make-up brushes, paint brushes or Q-tips.

Cold Cream and Corn Starch Face Paint
1 tsp. cornstarch
½ tsp. cold cream
½ tsp. water
food coloring (variety of colors)
     Mix together cornstarch and cold cream until well blended. Add water and stir. Add food coloring one drop at a time until you get the desired color.

Baby Lotion Face Paint
1/8  cup baby lotion
¼ teaspoon powdered tempera paint
1 squirt liquid dishwashing soap
     Mix the baby lotion, powdered tempera paint, and dishwashing lotion in a small dish.  Mix each color separately.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Boy and His Dog--how about some home-made treats for your best friend?

It's Sam's 18th birthday today!  Here's an archive picture of Sam at age 9 and Diesel as a ball-of fluff- 5-week old puppy.  

Fido's People Crackers*

Materials and directions:

1/4 cup hot tap water
8 chicken bouillon cubes (remember those?)
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar,
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups wheat germ
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour.

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Pour the hat tap water into a large bowl.  Add the chicken bouillon cubes and crush them with a fork.  Stir in the yeast and let stand for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato juice, 1 cup all-purpose flour and the wheat germ.  Stir with a large spoon to form a smooth batter.  Then stir in the remaining all-purpose and the whole wheat flours. (this will make the dough very dry and stiff).  You'll probably have to use your hands to finish mixing.
  3. Sprinkle flour on a surface such as a cutting board, then take a couple of handfuls of dough out and work into a small ball shape.  Then, with a rolling pin flatten the balls to about 1/4" thick on the cutting board.  If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.
  4. Now, use a table knife to cut out your people shapes, or use a bone-shaped cookie cutter, or a ginger-bread boy cutter--or any shape you want! Then repeat the whole process again with the rest of the dough, working a couple of handfuls at a time.
  5. Finally, use a spatula to put your people bicuits onto a cookie sheet.  Then bake at 300 degrees for about an hour.  Afterwards, let them dry in the turned-off oven for quite a while, 4 hours or so.  (teaches patience)
  6. Store in an air-tight container, and dole out to your doggie when he/she deserves a little treat!
*from KidsCooking:  A Very Slightly Messy Manual, by the editors of Klutz Press, 1987.
Sam and Diesel as grown-ups.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Great Books for Kids--your ideas, please!

My mom, Martha reading to her granddaughter, Darcy

     Reading together with children is something I cherish. In this section, along with reviewing new children's books, I would love to get a discussion going--what books do your children particularly enjoy and why? I was parenting young children in the mid-80's and early 90's, and then teaching preschool until 2007--so I know great ones from that era--Owl Moon, Grandfather Twilight, and my preschooler's favorites: the "No, David!" series.
What are your favorites?
     If you haven't used it already I want to let you know about "The Read-Aloud Handbook," by Jim Trelease. It is filled with ideas and is now in it's 6th printing. Here's another resource from my local library system:
     I look forward to hearing about your suggestions--please feel free to post in the comments section.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Painting" with Water

v Let your baby have a chunky paintbrush, a plastic bowl of water and some construction paper in a high chair. (Not even a mess!)
v Give your toddler or preschooler grown-up paint brushes or rollers and a bucket of water—let them “paint” the outside of the house, the fence, the car, maybe even the dog.
v Fill empty plastic bottles, such as dishwashing detergent, ketchup or mustard containers with water.  Your artists can squirt designs or practice writing their names on a hot sidewalk or empty driveway.

For preschool age or older:

Variation on sidewalk chalk:  “Sidewalk paint, what a smashing idea! Crushing and grinding sidewalk chalk is an inexpensive way to make your own sidewalk paint for small or large murals!  This big messy idea washes away with a hose or the next rain.”*

Materials:  large sidewalk chalk
Heavy zipper-closure plastic bags
Hammers, mallets or blocks
Water paintbrushes

1.   Break the sidewalk chalk into five to fifteen pieces.
2.   Put a big piece of sidewalk chalk into a heavy zipper-closure plastic bag and close.
3.   Carefully pound chalk into a powder with a hammer or block. (supervise closely)
4.   Put the chalk powder into a container.  Add water and stir with a paintbrush until it is the consistency of paint.  Make several colors.
5.   Paint the sidewalk with the new paint.  Or, pour big puddles of paint on the sidewalk and drive through them with large toy trucks, trikes, or bikes.
6.   Wash the paint away with a hose and water, or let the rain wash it away over time.

*From, The Big Messy But Easy to Clean Up Art Book, by MaryAnn F. Kohl.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Going on a picnic....Fruit Kabobs

You can use the wooden pointed skewers, or popsicle sticks if your chef is too young for the pointy ends. Banana slices, cantaloupe, kiwi, strawberry, pineapple chunks are all good choices for this fun-to-make snack.  Have your child thread several to take on a picnic, or, if it's a rainy day, try an indoor picnic by spreading a blanket on the living room floor!

"Going on a Picnic," by Raffi

Going on a picnic, leaving right away 
If it doesn't rain, we'll stay all day. 

Did you bring the sandwiches? 
Yes I've brought the sandwiches. 
Did you bring the salad? 
Yes I've brought the salad. 
Ready for a picnic here we go. 

Going on a picnic, leaving right away 
If it doesn't rain, we'll stay all day. 
Did you bring the melon? 
Yes I've brought the melon. 
Did you bring the apples? 
Yes I've brought the apples. 

Did you bring the lemonade? 
Yes I've brought the lemonade. 
Did you bring the cookies? 
Yes I've brought the cookies. 
Ready for a picnic here we go. 

Going on a picnic, leaving right away 
If it doesn't rain, we'll stay all day. 
Going on a picnic, leaving right away 
If it doesn't rain, we'll stay all day. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's Cherry Season......

After enjoying a fresh fruit snack, try planting the pits and see if you can start your own orchard!
The Cherry Tree
(author unknown)

Once I found a cherry stone,

I put it in the ground,

And when I came to look at it,

A tiny shoot I found.

The shoot grew up and up each day,

And soon became a tree.

I picked the rosy cherries then,

And ate them for my tea.

The following link is to an easy cherry cobbler recipe that calls for two pounds of sour cherries, pitted.  You may want to invest in a cherry-pitting gadget and enlist your young helpers to prepare the fruit: Fresh Cherry Cobbler

A few years ago, Matthew was working at a nursery and he gave me a young cherry tree for Mother’s Day.  It is a hybrid with five different types of cherries growing on one tree!  Even that first year it had beautiful white blossoms, and we got a few cherries.  In subsequent years, I looked forward to harvesting more fruit, only to find that the birds ate them all as soon as they were ripe.  I tried covering the tree with netting, but the birds were sneaky and foiled that plan.  This year, we have beautiful fruit, and the birds haven’t touched it.  I’m giving credit to our Bombay cat, Sachi, who is the sweetest kitty ever, but a fierce hunter, too.  Now that we have her stalking the front yard, the birds must be afraid to steal our cherries!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


You can make this dough together and experiment rolling it into all kinds of shapes including the traditional "folded arms" of the pretzel--alphabet letters, numbers, animals--wherever your child's imagination goes! Having the smell of freshly-baked bread in your home is heavenly, too.

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour

1 egg, beaten
salt for sprinkling on top (optional)

Measure warm water into a large bowl, stir in the sugar and dissolve. Sprinkle on the yeast and let it activate for a few minutes. Add the salt and flour. Mix and knead the dough thoroughly. Roll and twist into shapes to your heart's content. Place on greased baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to paint the beaten egg onto the shapes and sprinkle with sea-salt if you like. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes.

While you wait for your pretzels to come out of the oven, try a few yoga pretzel moves from the book below!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Feed the Hummingbirds!

It's been a relatively chilly and damp summer in Seattle this year, and I've forgotten to put my hummingbird feeder outside my kitchen window. What a thrill to catch sight of their iridescent feathers and wings churning at impossible speeds while I'm washing the dishes. I make my own "nectar" and you can even make your own feeder.  I'm going to do it today! (see instructions below)

Boil one cup water for a minute to purify--add 1/4 cup white sugar and stir until dissolved.  Let the solution cool completely before adding it to the feeder.  Make sure to change it once a week, especially in hot weather, so that the nectar does not ferment.

Make a Feeder from recycled materials:

Ladybug Girl & Bumblebee Boy

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tia Tamara’s Guacamole

2 large, ripe avocados
2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
juice from 2 limes
¼ cup chopped cilantro
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Cut the avocados in half and scoop the contents out of the skin into a pie pan. (save the pit!) Let your little one mash the avocados with a large fork.  Pour in the lime juice first to prevent browning. Thoroughly mix in other ingredients.  Serve with tortilla chips, celery sticks, or pita bread.

Grow an Avocado Plant!

We have an avocado plant that is now 3 years old and 8 feet high—started from a pit in our window sill.  It takes patience to get it started, but is well worth the effort.  Fill a clear glass or jam jar with water.  Take 4 toothpicks and poke them into the pit about 1/3 from the smaller end of the pit.  Balance the pit on the toothpicks so that the larger bottom end is submerged in water.  As the water evaporates, add more to keep the bottom moist.  Roots will begin to appear, and then you will notice shoots coming from the top.  At this point you can transplant your avocado plant into a pot with soil. I’ve had better luck starting the plants during the summer months when there is more light. Sometimes, it takes several weeks to get the plant growing….it’s fun to start several at once, and they make nice gifts, too!


Pancakes (from Laurel’s Kitchen)
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup wheat germ (or substitute more flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 ½ to 3 cups fresh milk
2 tablespoons oil

Stir together all of the dry ingredients.  Beat the eggs lightly and combine with the milk, then add to the dry ingredients and stir briefly.  Stir in the oil.

Heat the griddle.  It should be hot enough so that when you sprinkle water drops on the surface, they dance.  Pour the batter onto griddle by large spoonfuls. Cook over medium heat, turning once when bubbles come to the surface and pop and the edges are slightly dry.

Below is a fun little rhyme to memorize and recite while you are cooking together!

Mix a Pancake
(Author: Christina G. Rossetti - 1830-1894)
Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan;
Fry the pancake;
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can.

After breakfast you can cuddle up and read this darling book!

Here's another fun pancake book,  this one is by Eric Carle

Rainbow Stew

Rainbow Stew 

Materials Needed:
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup corn starch
4 cups water
Food Coloring, red, yellow and blue
Zip lock baggies, strong clear packing tape

Mix together the sugar, corn starch and water in a sauce pan. Stir constantly and heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool.
Divide the mixture into three bowls. Add a different color of food coloring to each bowl, one red, one yellow and one blue. Put approximately three tablespoon of each color into a zip-lock bag. Seal the bag and tape the top closed.
Knead the baggie to mix colors just enough to look like a rainbow. Lay bag down on a hard surface and gently press to flatten it. You can hang it in your window when finished. You can also just play with it and see what happens to all of the colors!