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Thursday, December 22, 2011

make overnight cinnamon pecan rolls

you still have time to do this before the holidays. they are not too hard and very, very tasty on a rushed holiday morning. 

1 c milk (warmed a bit)
1/4 c warm water
1 t vanilla
1/2 c butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 t salt
1/2 c sugar
5 c flour
4 t yeast

mix everything above with a mixer or by hand for about 10 minutes. if you mix by hand, it will be sticky - be careful not to add to much extra flour, just knead, knead, knead and it will be beautiful.

let the dough rest covered for 10 minutes.

roll out into a long rectangle - about 15X24

rub 1/2 cup of softened butter all over the dough, leaving a unbuttered edge along the long side. 

sprinkle with filling.

1 c packed brown sugar
4 T cinnamon
up to a cup of chopped pecans 
(there is so much possibility in the filling - you can alter the spices, add all sorts of dried fruits, or different nuts - go crazy).

roll up long ways. cut 12 - 15 rolls using the dental floss trick.

put into a 9X13 buttered pan and press down. cover with saran wrap and refrigerate until morning. 

in the morning
put into a cold oven and set to 350 (take off the saran). cook for 35 minutes. 

make some frosting if you want
i just beat up:

1/2 block of cream cheese
1 few T of butter
about a cup of powdered sugar
orange zest

* i got this recipe in an exchange i participated in several years ago from kristin. we have made them for the last 3 or 4 Christmases and love them. they are highly anticipated!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

write with light and sparkle

I think I need to sign off for the week. I hope you have a wonderful holiday and are able to enjoy everything that you create with your family.

A quick fun activity: set your camera exposure to stay open (I just turn my flash off and make sure I am in a dark area) and dance around with sparklers or glow sticks. This has become one of my kids very favorite activities. And it is easy, can be done with things you probably have around the house, and lends itself to endless experimentation. Fun all around, I say. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

set up the conditions...

I am spending a lot of time thinking about how I set up the conditions. And how those conditions change each season of learning. Stay at home? Lots of field trips? Playdates? Co-ops?

 It is a tricky balance on a slippery teeter totter.

Monday, December 19, 2011

magic in the mail

What a wonderful nature swap with A Life Sustained! My kids were so excited to see what sort of nature items traveled all the way from Iowa. We were so interested in how the pinecones are longer and skinnier than the ones here in Florida. Also, wondering if we can eat the dried berries? And so excited to crack our geode - what a great state rock. 

Thanks Courtney! Want to try again in Spring?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

weekend before the rush

this last weekend before the rush of next week we will:

make cookies with friends,

play in cardboard boxes, 

climb trees, 

eat every meal outside,

wrap presents, 

wonder about vines and spores and how memories work,

roast chicken, 

build bird feeders, 

co sleep, 

cry at sad movies, 

and try to appreciate that the richness of our lives is our real gift this season.

Friday, December 16, 2011

be a circus star

My five year old has been working for two days nonstop on his tightrope walking skills. He excitedly told me that his dad can now retire, as he will be a circus star. And apparently we will not have to celebrate Christmas anymore, because everyday will be like Christmas - we will be rich with all his circus money. People might even pay up to $6 to see him! My only requirement is that I buy him some new rope every once in awhile. 

My take away from this: 

Rope is a top tier kids toy.

Our collection of velour body suits are still essential and in daily use (after years).

I feed off of this kid energy like the guy in The City of Lost Children.

I love kid initiated projects -  all this took was rope and several days at home. Time and space are two of the things kids need the most. They are free, but seem so hard to provide sometimes. 

We have watched Man on a Wire and are planning to check out the Sailor Circus later this month. Do you have any great kids' circus resources?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

make monogrammed mugs

We are on the monogramed mug bandwagon. We used Design Mom's tutorial here.  These are so simple! Basically, you use transfer paper to copy the outline of the letter and then use a porcelain paint pin to trace and fill in. Ours will go in the oven tomorrow for a bit and then they are done (and the smears will be gone). My 9yo daughter helped do these with no problem, so you can get the kids involved. And you easily have enough time to get some made before the holidays, so get crack-a-lackin'.

Of course, as in every craft we do, soon we were experimenting and drawing pictures and quotes and designs.... The possibilities for these cool paint pens are endless.

Monday, December 12, 2011

gift guide - 9 year old girl

Well, I am back after an unplanned hiatus. Life is too busy this time of year!

Here is my last gift guide. This one is for a 9 year old girl. This girl is into art, dolls, ballet, theatre, competitive swimming, and all sort of tiny things. She is pretty awesome and these are some things she will love.

I can not wait to give her this Leafcutter Designs tiny post office kit! She is going to flip! From the tiny newspaper to wrap gifts in to the tiny envelopes - jeez, this was made for my daughter.

The only way I can tell my daughter from any other swimmer is because she wears this swim cap. It is cute - and there are others too, like a shark. She usually gets a new one at her birthday and Christmas.

Black Apple's Paper Dolls Primer. This gorgeous paper doll book is full of dolls, clothes and ideas for things like armoires and theaters! The only problem is that it is so cool my daughter refuses to cut it up. It is suggested that you color copy sections or buy another copy - because you will want to both play and have a full copy to browse.

My daughter usually gets a tote of some sort each year. This year, to complement her burgeoning guitar playing, this is the one. At only $13, it is a deal!

In the past I have purchases kits to paint your own mastroyka dolls off Etsy. But it is really easy to make your own. Just grab one of these doll sets at Hobby Lobby and package up with some either sharpies and watercolors or acrylics and you are good to go. This makes a great stocking stuffer!

Kiki Magazine is a very cool magazine for girls that covers fashion with an emphasis on how-to's, designer biographies and interesting articles about the business side of the fashion industry. It is something that I often grab to read too. I highly recommend this magazine over any other commercial magazines. With no advertising, the content remains rich and in-depth.

We are big Enid Blyton fans, and this kid has blown through several of series (The Wishing Chair and Fairway Tree), so next up is the Naughtiest Girl Collection.  Fingers crossed that it is as good as the others.

So, what are you getting for your nine year old?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

gift guide - 7yo boy

This kid is a serious entomology and science buff. He looks under every rock and leaf and has been able to catch some amazing natural phenomenon with his eagle eyes. He also has a killer sense of humor and especially loves to watch and perform slapstick comedy. Here are some of his holiday treats.

This handmade bag, filled with goodies is perfect for adventuring nature kids. You can get it here.

This nature vest will be great to carry supplies when we are hiking and traveling. You can get it here.

I reviewed Microcosmos here a few months ago. This is simply the best insect film ever.

This Little Rascals box set is perfect for kids with great comedic sense. Actually, we already own it and have enjoyed the hours and hours of episodes many times. The Little Rascals have influenced play, dress (one kid wears undershirts because of an episode), inventions (remember all their cool vehicles?) and every sort of kid cultural creation around here.

I love to support art projects made by kids. This cool coloring book is just a few bucks and about a million times more rad than anything else you will find in any store. Get it here.

I have no idea what I am thinking. It must be all the unschooling and "yes" philosophy I am drinking in - but I am getting my son a BB gun. He wants it so bad, and is a very cautious kid. But, I have several bad gun stories in my past - so this will be an interesting journey for us. Which I guess is what parenting should be, right? A journey and relationship between people...

Monday, December 5, 2011

gift guide - 5 year old boy

Do you have all your holiday shopping done yet? I am getting there. This week I am sharing some things that I am either giving my kids or have given in the past. Most of them come with a pretty strong endorsement. Since I have three, really specific kids, the lists are geared towards them. 

Please share your additional suggestions in the comments!

The 5 year old boy that this list is geared to is an amazingly kind and loving kid, who is equally comfortable mock battling all day with his older brother in dirt holes as he is taking ballet and performing dances with his older sister. 

When I look at him, I hear the Walt Whitman line,"... I am large, I contain multitudes."

So here is the list for a fun loving, active and imaginative boy.

Fun Hats. My son love dress up stuff and cool clothes. He will love this hat from team sanchez. I swapped with her and have already received the hat. I love it! It is very well made.

Shadow puppets. I have a set of these from Owly Shadow Puppets and they are really gorgeous. They are laser cut from a plastic material, so will withstand many, many shows. A sheet, flashlight and a few of these and you are on your way to the theatre!

Paper Balloons. These are so great for stockings and Christmas cards. They fold up flat and then you blow them up through a little hole. If they deflate, you can just blow them up again. My kids have had so much fun with these over the years. You can get them at Pearl River and Amazon. The animals shapes are always a hit!

Fisherman Pants. These are some of the most comfortable pants for active kids. My son loves to wear them to play in, and they always make it into costume play. They are impossible to outgrow - they just seem to get shorter. You can buy them here

Wooden Sword. We actually bought these at a medieval festival but you can also get them here. They are one of the most consistently played with toys around here. My kids spent a lot of time decorating and painting their swords. We used hammered metal spray paint for the blade and a color with lots of jewels on the hilt. They are wielded on top of picnic tables, up and down stairs and all throughout the house. 

Make a Fort Kit. I have seen this all over the internet and think my 5 year old would love it. The original idea came from here. She has lots of versions you can make - from mini to deluxe kits. 

My Fathers's Dragon. If you do not have this book in your library already, you will want to get it. The short trilogy has just enough real adventure to ignite imagination, but not give nightmares. The tale is about a boy (Elmer Elevator) who saves a baby dragon and then helps save his family. The dangers are real, but easily overcome by a smart boy with things like pink lollypops, hair ribbons and a toothbrush. SO great for five year olds. 


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