My Life of Travels and Adventures: January 2015

Apple Walnut Coffee Cake

30 January 2015

Neil is a big fan of coffee cake...  Which is a good thing since this recipe makes a thick coffee cake... which was all gobbled up fairly quickly.

1/2 C Applesauce
2 Eggs
1 C Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 C Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Poder
1 C Sour Cream
2 - 2 1/2 C Apples, Finely Chopped
1/2 C Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Butter, Melted
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 C Chopped Walnuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. Coat an 8x8 pan with non-stick spray. 
  3. In a large bowl combine the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Beat well. 
  4. Add the baking soda, baking powder sour cream and mix. 
  5. Slowly add in the flour and stir until combined. 
  6. Stir in the apples and then pour into the prepared pan. 
  7. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts.  Sprinkle over the batter. 
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes. 

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Down For The Count

27 January 2015

Last weekend and the start of this week has been really rough.  I am pretty sure that I have some flu-like thing happening.  I am just now starting to feel better and everything is not achey.  But it has been rough.  So this week's posts are all still sitting in the drafts.  

I considered editing one yesterday but then promptly fell asleep as soon as Reid was down.  So... I've got nothing for you except some pictures that I took with my phone last week while playing outside with the munchkin.  
Don't let the blue sky fool you.  It was very very cold on this day.  But we needed to get outside of both our sanities.  So I made it happen.
I love snow covered trees.  
On this day we were playing outside around 5pm, while waiting for Neil to get home.  I turned around and this was the sunset over our house.  

Now I am off to take a much needed short nap before the munchkin wakes up.  

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

23 January 2015

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
I intended to make this Caramel Apple Cheesecake for dessert on Thanksgiving but ended up having way too much else to do leading up to the holiday... You know last minute cleaning and such.  But shortly after the holiday, I whipped up these Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars much to delight of our entire house.  

These Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars consist of 5 simple layers and are oh so delicious.  They are the perfect ratio of crunch, cream and sweetness.  So much so that they didn't last more than few days around here.  
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
3 C Flour
1 1/2 C Brown Sugar
1 C Butter, softened
2 (8 oz) Packages Cream Cheese, softened
1 C Sugar (divided)
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla
3 C Apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Bag (11oz) Caramel Bites
1/2 C Oats
1/2 C Butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking stray. 
  3. Combine the 2 C flour, 1/2 C brown sugar and softened butter.  Mix with a fork until crumbly.  
  4. Press into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly brown. 
  5. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1/2 C sugar until creamy and smooth.  
  6. Add the eggs and vanilla.  Stir to combine. 
  7. Pour over the crust.  
  8. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 C sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. 
  9. Add the chopped apples to the cinnamon mixture and stir to combine. 
  10. Spoon the apple mixture on top of the cheesecake layer.  
  11. Sprinkle the caramel bites on top of the apple layer. 
  12. In a small, combine 1 C brown sugar, 1 C flour, oats and the melted butter.  Mix with a fork until crumbly.  
  13. Sprinkle mixture on top of the caramel layer.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes. 
  15. Let cool before cutting. 
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
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Playroom Tour

22 January 2015

When we moved in last summer, we deemed the previous sitting room as our new playroom.  And 6 months later, I think we finally have the kinks worked out and the room set up how it will remain for a while, hopefully.  So lets take a tour...

This is the view from right outside the playroom door.  In the wall space between the bay window and the bookshelves, I plan on hanging letters that spell READ + PLAY.  But I am waiting for the Y to be in stock to finish this project.  
I apparently didn't take a picture of the rug in the doorway but it is the IKEA Hopplek rug.  

When you enter and turn to the right you see this...
Reid recently noticed that his tool bench has a clock on it and would run from the living room to the playroom to make the clocks match.  So I bought him his own red clock (from target) to match. 

The Craftsman Tool Bench is a hand-me-down from his cousins, the Little Tykes Fridge + Stove was a $10 garage sale find last year.  We use an IKEA Branas Basket to hold the kitchen food + toys.  The orange IKEA Lack table  and blue IKEA Mammut stools are the most recent addition to the room.  

As for the art in this area... The two canvases are covered in paint chip cut into squares and then randomly glued on.  The tree is a wall decal purchased several years ago.  The rug barely seen above and below is the IKEA Lekplats.

As you continue around the room counter clockwise...
We made this train table for Reid for last Christmas and a year later, we have only had to fix one piece.  
The train tracks on the train table are attached but underneath there are addition tracks, trains, and other pieces to create more tracks (stored in 4 bins from the Dollar Tree). 
In the corner beyond the train table is this bookcase that came with the house.  It makes a perfect addition to the playroom to create more storage.
Up on the top shelf is a bin of balls and our Disney Busy Books.  We have the Cars 2, Planes, Planes Fire + Rescue and Thomas the Tank Engine Books.  Reid loves these books... They contain a fold out playmat, a story and a dozen little figurines to play with.  These books are perfect for taking to a restaurant or when you need a contained play toy that will hold their attention.  The second shelf is full of board + card games.   Both of these shelves are out of reach to Reid. 

The this shelf has a bowling set (basket from the Dollar Tree) and all our musical instruments stored in the a drum.  

The bottom shelf has the big toys on it... Two garages, a race track, the Little People Farm, and the Mega Blok Table

Along the back wall of the room is a bay window and 10 year old IKEA Hemnes bench with a sheet stapled cross the top.  
To the left and the right of the bench we have two plastic crates as well.  
 Working our way right to left...
The crate hold all the Little People, animals and cars.  The first blue IKEA Drona box holds all our Mega Blocks.  
A bin holds all the wooden building blocks, another holds all the lincoln logs...
The final bin in the bench contains tinkertoys while the crate to the left holds all the wooden toys and trucks.  

So now we have made our way over to the far left side of the room.  
Again, we have another book shelf and a bean bag chair.

The bottom two shelves on the bookshelf hold books.   These are mostly board books and a few Little Golden Books.  The majority of our books are the shelf in Reid's room.  
Then there is a shelf with wooden puzzles, floor puzzles and a magna doodle.  That is the last shelf Reid can reach on this bookshelf.  The shelf above it holds coloring books and puzzles... All mostly purchased at the Dollar Tree.  
The top shelf has a basket of miscellaneous toy pieces, a Philly Phanatic and Reid's name made out of Legos.  

The final area in the room is to the left when you walk in the door.  Between the bookshelf above and this area is another bay window.  
On the wall at Reid's level is the Magnetic Board + ABC's that I made.   Above it are two more wall decal trees.  And for art there are three spray painted canvases on both sides of the bay window. 
This area houses all Reid's vehicles.  Along the top and the first shelf of the IKEA Expedit Shelf (now the Kallax) are large vehicles.  
The bottom shelf has four orange IKEA Drona Bins.  (FYI: These bins hold a lot of stuff!)  There is a bin for Monster Trucks, Cars + Trucks...
...Farm Vehicles and Construction Vehicles.   To the right of the shelf are the even larger (and metal) trucks.  The green rug in this area is the IKEA Lillabo.  

So there you have it... Our Playroom.  

I tried to divide the playroom into sections... Pretend Play with the kitchen/tool box... A building area in front of the bench which holds all the building supplies... A place to read... An area to play vehicles... etc.  But the biggest thing that has helped was the labels for the bins. By adding pictures along with the words, Reid is able to help clean up and put the toys in their proper place. 

Like the labels?  Well you can print them too.  I printed them onto card stock paper, cut them into large squares, then laminated them.  To attach them to the fabric bins, I just used 4 dots of hot glue in the corners.  For the plastic crates and wicker basket, I hole punched two holes and used ribbon to attach them.    

Click on each label below to open, download + print you own...

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Calendar Board

20 January 2015

We have been using this Calendar Board during preschool since last fall and it has suited us well so far. 

We start our preschool time with the Calendar.  I will talk about what day of the week it is while holding the corresponding day of the week sheet.  Then Reid will spell the day of the week and place it on our Calendar Board.  We will repeat these steps with the Month and Day.  We talk about the year and season next.  

When we get to the weather, Reid will go over to the dining room window to check the sky and report on the weather.  Then he selects the correct weather card and spells the word before hanging it on the Calendar Board. 
At this age Reid really doesn't get months, days and years so we use the Calendar time more as an intro to our school day and to focus on letters and numbers.  

The Calendar Board was really simple to make using a white board from the Dollar Tree, some free printables, construction paper, my laminator and mini clear command hooks.  
I just cut out all the printables, laminated them and then hole punched them for easy hanging.  
As for the board, I just mod podged construction paper rectangles to the white board, then used clear command strips to hang the parts of the calendar that would change.  

Date Printables from Mama Jenn
Season Printables from Sailing Through 1st Grade
Weather Printables from Living the Teaching Life

Check out all my preschool posts!

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Apple Pie Bars

15 January 2015

We are still working our way through the bushels upon bushels of apples that we picked this fall.  And in doing so, I have been experimenting with some different apple recipes.  The first being these Apple Pie Bars.  
These delicious Apple Pie Bars were a hit when served warm and with a scoop of ice cream.  Everyone gobbled them up.  
2 C Flour
2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Butter, softened
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 C Sour Cream
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Vanilla
1 C Walnuts, chopped
3 C Apples, peeled, cored and chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter.
  3. Press 3 C of the mixture into a 9x13 ungreased pan. 
  4. Add the cinnamon, baking soda, sour cream, egg, vanilla and nuts to the remaining mixture and mix well.
  5. Fold in the apples.  
  6. Pour evenly over the crust. 
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes.  
  8. Cool, cut and serve.  
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Running in 2014

14 January 2015

I felt like I did a lot of running last year.  But looking back through my garmin (affiliate link) and logs, it wasn't all that much.  But it was a lot for me.  And 2014 had a lot of races too.   
So let's recap:

Races: Polar 5k
Stroller Miles:
Total Miles: 7.10 

Stroller Miles: 4.34
Total Miles: 10.54

Stroller Miles: 5.4
Total Miles: 15.72

Races: Sap Run 10k
Stroller Miles: 13.37
Total Miles: 24.11

Stroller Miles: 2.11
Total Miles: 28.15

Stroller Miles: 5.19
Total Miles: 19.62

Stroller Miles: 16.23
Total Miles: 24.1

Races: Autism Awareness 5k (with the stroller) + Tops 10k
Stroller Miles: 14.03
Total Miles: 31.46

Stroller Miles: 13.17
Total Miles: 26.39

Stroller Miles: 3.42
Total Miles: 19.76

Total Miles: 13.28

Total Stroller Miles This Year 81.26
Total Miles This Year: 220.23

Looking back at 2013, I ran 137.16 miles and set a goal to double that in 2014.  And I failed at that goal.  

I ran my fastest post- Reid 5k this spring with a time of 38:03.  And then this summer I ran my fastest stroller 5k with a time of 38:30.  Actually that is my best pace ever with the stroller.  

I did run my fastest half marathon this spring with a time of 2:54:20.  What is even more impressive about that race was that I never fell apart.  I kept a pretty consistent pace and felt great at the end.  

In 2015, I would like to keep increasing my mileage and try to be more consistent with my runs.  We shall see...
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Snow + Winter Preschool plus Lesson Plans

13 January 2015

Snow + Winter Lesson Plans  (for Preschool + Tot School)
See all of my preschool posts Here.
See our Arctic + Antarctic Preschool Lessons Here
See our Winter Themed Tot School Here

See all of my Tot School Lessons Here

I am still working out the kinks on figuring out how to post about our homeschool preschool weeks.  Our first official preschool week was around Thanksgiving, so we have been doing preschool for a few months now.  

I think I have a pretty good lesson plan + post, so we will see how this post turns out.  

To download or print the Snow/Winter Preschool Lesson Plans
Snow + Winter Lesson Plans  (for Preschool + Tot School) 
Snowman Pack from Royal Baloo
Winter Pack from 3 Dinosaurs
Snow and Ice Pack from A Teaching Mommy
Winter Wonderland from Over the Moon
Winter Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1
18 Books about Snow

Books (Affiliate Links from Amazon)

Snowman Foot Print
Supplies: Construction Paper, White Paint + Markers (idea from Frog Snail and Puppy Dog Tails)
Once Reid's foot was dry, I went back and added the details to the snowman.
Footprint Snowman
Painted Snowflakes
Supplies: Jumbo Craft Sticks, Hot Glue, White Paint + Paint Brush, Tacky Glue + Buttons
The snowflake was preassembled with hot glue before Reid painted them white.  Once the paint was dry, I put down lines of tacky glue and Reid added the buttons. 
Buttons Snowflake Craft for Kids
Supplies: Craft Sticks, Hot Glue, White Paint + Glitter
I assembled the snowflakes with hot glue then let Reid paint them white.  While the paint was still wet, I sprinkled with with glitter. 
Painted Snowflake Craft for Kids
Paper Snow Globe: 
Supplies: Construction Paper, Glue Sticks, White Paint + Q-tips (idea from Crafty Morning)
I pre-cut out all the pieces for this project ahead of time.  Using a glue stick and some guidance Reid assembled the snow globe + snowman.  Then using a q-tip Reid added the snow throughout. 
Painted Snow Globe Craft for Kids
Pipe Cleaner + Pony Bead Icicles (idea from Happy Hooligans)
Supplies: Sparkle Pipe Cleaners + Pony Beads
I didn't take a picture of this craft but it was as easy Reid stringing the pony beads on the pipe cleaners and then me twisting the pipe cleaners around a pencil.  

Fingerprint Snowmen
Supplies: Paper, Paint + Markers (idea from Crafty Morning)
This was an easy craft but required help from me all throughout.  Once the thumbprints were dried I used sharpies to add the details.  
Snowman Fingerprint Craft for Kids
Snowman Stickers
Supplies: Paper + Snowman Stickers
Using snowman stickers I picked up at the Dollar Tree, Reid had a blast sticking them to sheets of paper. 

Painted Snowman (idea from Happy Hooligans)
Supplies: Jumbo Craft Sticks, White Paint, Buttons, Googly Eyes, Ribbon
Again, I don't have a picture of these little snowmen.  But I had Reid paint the craft sticks white then when they were dry he decorated them to make snowmen. 

Q-tip Snowflakes
Supplies: Construction Paper, Tacky Glue + Q-Tips (idea from Crafty Morning)
I put down lines of tacky glue and let Reid add the Q-tips to form a snowman.  Easy Peasy. 
Q-Tip Snowflake Craft for Kids

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