My Life of Travels and Adventures: February 2015

Apple Nut Muffins

27 February 2015

Muffins are a staple in our house.  We always have a batch on the counter for quick breakfast or snack options.   These Apple Nut Muffins were a huge hit and were gobbled right up by Neil + Reid.  
Apple Nut Muffins

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 C Apple, peeled, cored and chopped 
1 1/2 C Applesauce
3/4 C Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Flax Seed
1/8 Tsp Nutmeg
2 C Flour
1 C Walnuts, chopped

Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. 
  2. Pour the cinnamon sugar over the chopped apple and stir to coat evenly.  Set aside. 
  3. Preheat the over to 350F. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.  
  5. Add the baking soda, flax seed and nutmeg.  Stir well to incorporate. 
  6. Slowly add the flour and mix until combined. 
  7. Fold in the walnuts and apple mixture. 
  8. Pour the batter into muffin cups. 
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes. 
  10. Let cool + serve. 
Makes 18 muffins

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Tuscan Bean Soup

20 February 2015

Around here we like a hearty soup.  It needs to be chocked full of vegetables, have a good flavor and have a good broth for dipping.  This Tuscan Bean Soup is just that.  Full of vegetables, lots of beans and yummy spices.  Perfect for these cold winter nights we are experiencing.  
Ingredients:
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 Tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 Tsp thyme
1/2 Tsp rosemary
1 Qrt chicken broth
2 (14oz) Cans cannelli beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
3 C chopped kale
1/2 Tsp pepper
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots and celery.  Saute for 5 minutes. 
2. Add the garlic, red paper flakes, thyme and rosemary.  Cook for 2 minutes. 
3. Stir in the broth, beans and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil. 
4. Add the chopped kale and pepper.   Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. 
5. Remove 1/3 of the soup (liquid, beans and vegetables) from the pot and place in the freezer to cool for about 5 minutes. 
6. Partially puree the cooled soup using a food processor.  
7.  Add the pureed soup back to the original pot and stir to combine. Let cook for an additional 5 minutes.  
9.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

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Toddler Dragon Craft + Easy Chinese New Year Celebration

16 February 2015

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #NewYearFortune #Collective Bias
Toddler Dragon Craft - Easy Chinese New Year Craft
With the upcoming Chinese New Year, Reid and I decided to make a simple dragon craft.  If you have ever done a craft with a toddler (or pretty much ever interacted with a toddler) then you know that  getting them to follow directions can be tedious and sometimes frustrating. So I've decided the best thing for all involved is to have some snack options on hand while crafting. The Chinese New Year celebrates the wish of "good fortune" to all in the year ahead with red-envelope gifts and traditional appetizers.   So for our Chinese New Year craft we snacked on Authentic, Restaurant Inspired, Asian Tai Pei® appetizers.  

But first the simple Chinese New Year dragon.  And by simple... I mean toddler easy and with supplies that I already had in the craft drawers. 
Supplies:
2 Paper Towel Rolls
Red, Orange and Yellow Paints + Paint Brushes
Wired Ribbon
Streamers
First, I cut the paper towel rolls into about 2 inch sections and then Reid painted them.  
Once they were dry, I had Reid thread about 2 feet pieces of streamer through each paper towel piece.    I wanted to use the leftover orange and yellow streamers from Reid's Birthday party last month... but have seemed to misplaced them. Then we threaded the paper towel piece onto the wired ribbon.  
To hold all the paper towel pieces on I looped and twisted the ribbon around the very first piece and then when we were done threading tied a knot at the other end.  I had plans of gluing goggly eyes and a long tongue onto the knot to make it a dragon face but Reid was having none of it.  
In the end we had a dragon that wiggled, jiggled, waved and danced with us.  Reid had fun making the dragon and Neil + I had fun snacking at our simple Chinese New Year  activity. 
We had Tai Pei® Pork Egg Rolls and Tai Pei® Mini Chicken Spring Rolls that I picked up at Walmart. 
The Tai Pei® appetizers are ready in minutes and loaded with traditional style and flavor chicken, pork or shrimp.  I tried photographing the dipping sauce that is included with the appetizers too but couldn't get Reid to stop sampling it long enough for a picture... So I gave up.  Luckily for Reid and my patience, the delicious crispy wrappers and hearty pork and chicken insides of the Tai Pei® appetizers were enough for me to calmly help Reid create his Chinese New Year dragon.  
On the Tai Pei® Facebook page check out the Chinese New Year app.  The Red Envelope tab includes a coupon (while supplies last).  Follow along with Tai Pei® on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.   

New England Clam Chowder

13 February 2015

New England Clam Chowder
There is something about the cold and winter that requires clam chowder.  I love a thick creamy soup and this New England Clam Chowder Recipe doesn't disappoint.  

Plus it is super easy to make and can be on the table in time for dinner.  

Ingredients
8 slices of bacon
3-4 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 C chicken broth
3 tsp tabasco sauce
3 large cans, chopped clams with juice
3 tsp worcester sauce
1 tsp pepper
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 C milk
1 pint heavy cream
1/4 C cornstarch
1 C water

Directions:
1. Saute the bacon in a dutch oven.
2. When the bacon is cooked, remove and set aside.  Add the carrots, celery and onion to the bacon fat and sauté for 10 minutes. 
3. Add the chicken broth, tabasco sauce, clams, worcester sauce and pepper.  Stir, then bring to a light boil. 
4. Add in the potatoes, milk, and heavy cream.  Stir well.  Boil for 20 minutes. 
5. Mix the cornstarch and water together in a bowl.  Slowly add and stir into the chowder to thicken.  

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Our Preschool Routine

10 February 2015

I am my no means an expert on homeschool or even preschool but I have figured out a pretty good system that works for me and Reid.  

For the most part we do our preschool activities in the same order... 

Songs
Books
Clean Up

And most days it takes us anywhere from 1 hour to 1.5 hours to complete school.

I aim for preschool 3 days a week on average.  Some weeks we have more preschool days (especially when we are snowed in or its way to cold to venture out) and some less due to other scheduled activities and plans.  

Calendar (Time: 5 minutes)
We both sit in front of the calendar to start our school day.  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. 

Songs (Time 5-10 minutes)
Sometimes I have songs that go long with our Weekly Theme and sometimes I don’t.  If I don’t then we will sing a couple songs together or dance to a few from one of our kid CDs.  

Books (Time: 20-30 minutes)
Each week I try to have at least 10 different books for us to read during school that relate to the Weekly Theme. (Which usually means being on top of my game and picking them up at the library the week before.) Each day of school I will read for at least 20 minutes.   

Worksheets (Time: 10-15 minutes)
After books we move school to the dining room table and work on some worksheets.  I use free printables for 95% of these worksheets.  Sometimes I will pull out a workbook I picked up at the store too.  I love the variety that most printable packs contain.  I try to keep a mix of worksheets containing matching, dot marker letter finds, prewriting line tracing, single letter tracing, word tracing, and coloring.  Each day Reid does around 6-10 worksheets... sometimes more... depending on how easy they are.  

Learning Activity/Game (Time: 10-15 minutes)
I try to come up with some fun activities + games that correspond with the Weekly Theme.  Sometimes it a simple game of matching upper and lower case letters, or using clip card that came in a free printable pack to count.  Other times I might cover the floor with numbered snowflakes and Reid will have to stomp on the number I shout out.  

I try to keep this portion of our school time a little more active.   

Craft (Time 10-15 minutes)
To end each school day we do a little craft that relates to our Weekly Theme.  I try to keep it fairly simple and have all the supplies out ahead of time.   


More Preschool posts... Weekly Learning Themes, Calendar Board, Preschool Room Set Up, Behind the Scenes, and lots more...


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Apple Breakfast Cookies

06 February 2015

Apple Breakfast Cookies
Cookies for breakfast?  Yup.  These cookies are full of apples, bananas, peanut butter and oats.  The perfect combination for breakfast cookies... At least in my book.  
Both Reid + Neil enjoyed these for breakfast... Although, I broke Reid's into pieces so that he would know it was a cookie.  Don't want to start him asking for cookies any earlier in the day than he already does.  
Ingredients:
1 C Peanut Butter
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 C Banana, mashed
2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Cinnamon
3 C Flour
4 1/2 C Oats
2 1/2 C Apples, peeled, cored and diced

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. In a large bowl, blend the peanut butter and brown sugar until creamy. 
  3. Mix in the egg, vanilla, mashed banana, baking soda and cinnamon.
  4. Slowly add the flour and oats.  Stir well to combine. 
  5. Fold in the diced apples. 
  6. Roll 3-4 Tbsp of dough into large balls and place a few inches apart on a cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly. 
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  8. Let cool for 10-15 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack. 

Makes 3 dozen cookies. 
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Arctic + Antarctic Themed Preschool (+ Lesson Plans)

03 February 2015

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

I am really struggling on how to write these preschool posts.  That and I am way behind on them anyway.  I think because I am trying to include everything that we used for the week in one posts it makes it a little boring to read ( + write).  I might try to really only focus on one activity for the week and blog about that... instead of all that we did.   I feel like my Tot School posts were a lot more fun and the preschool ones are boring.  We shall see what happens.  

Printables
Arctic Animals from Royal Baloo
Romping and Roaring 2 Pack from 3 Dinosaurs
Letter I Printables from 1+1+1=1
Romping and Roaring I Pack from 3 Dinosaurs

Books (Affiliate Links from Amazon)

Watch Me Grow: Penguin
The Emperor's Egg
Up and Down 
Go Diego Go: South Pole Rescue



Crafts
Polar Bear Craft from Learn Create Love

We painted our polar bear with metallic white paint and then Reid darkened up the eyes.  Eek.

Seal Craft from Learn Create Love

We used metallic copper paint for the seal and once it was dry, I cut it out and Reid used a glue stick to help piece the seal back together

Walrus Craft from Learn Create Love

Beluga Whale Craft from Learn Create Love

Snowy Owl Craft from Learn Create Love


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