Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Can I just tell you how much I love is such an amazing website; eons ago when I was a teaching assistant I looked up lesson plans for my students, vacation and weekend crafts for my kids, and today I'm back at lesson plans for my four year old to keep him arting and learning until he begins kindergarten. I get their monthly newsletters, and wanted to share this month's with you, as many families are taking vacations and day-trips this time of year. My little one is especially interested in the layered book, and wants to make one the next time we go to the local Discovery Center for our weekly animal class.  Happy arting!!
Souvenir Suitcase craft 
Children always need places to store their travel treasures. Take a dream vacation with them as they cover their suitcase with handmade travel stickers.

  • 1.
    Choose a box for your suitcase. A one-piece sneaker box is great because the lid is attached.
  • 2.
    Cut construction or white paper into rectangles with Crayola® Scissors. Draw pictures of places you have visited or hope to visit on your travel stickers. Use Crayola Crayons and Crayola Washable Markers to create scenes of parks, picnics, famous places, cities, beaches, or mountains. You could also include vehicles such as cars or planes.
  • 3.
    Write travel words or destinations on more rectangles. Have fun! Visit the Big Apple! Customs! are some examples. Make up more words of your own.
  • 4.
    Attach stickers to your Souvenir Suitcase with Crayola Glue Sticks. Point them in different directions to cover your suitcase.
  • 5.
    To make a suitcase handle, ask an adult to poke two holes through one end of the box. Thread ribbon through the holes, and knot the ends inside the box.

Memorable Times Together craft
Make and save your memories on vacation, at camp—or wherever and whenever you go away!

  • 1.
    These three accessories are perfect for preserving your good times. Make them all, before or after your trip.
  • 2.
    Postcard Pouch. Postcards deserve a special place! To make a pouch to organize them, fold Crayola Neon Color Explosion® Paper in half. Decorate the pouch with Neon Color Explosion Markers and foam pieces. Punch holes along both sides. Lace with ribbon. Embellish with Glitter Glue. Air-dry the glue.
  • 3.
    Treasure Box. Looking for a spot to keep travel or camp treasures? Glue pieces of decorated Neon Color Explosion Paper and ribbon onto a recycled cardboard box to make a keepsake box. Air-dry the glue. Place your pictures, souvenirs, and other mementos inside.
  • 4.
    Tiny Tee. Create a vacation shirt you can’t outgrow! Cut out a thin cardboard T-shirt or use a paper maché T-shirt ornament. Color your T-shirt with Crayola True to Life™ Markers. Decorate the tee with vacation-inspired designs and foam stickers. Punch a
  • 5.
    Pack all your vacation-themed crafts into a tote bag like the one you can make in Vacation Take-Along Pack!

Layered Book craft
Use Crayola Neon Color Explosion Paper and Markers to make a book about your summer vacation, about your dreams for the new school year or all about you and your friends. Great for school projects or as a unique birthday card, this craft is fun, fast, and

  • 1.
    Directions for a Simple Layered Book: Choose one piece of Neon Color Explosion paper. Fold down the top edge (about an inch or 2cm). Press the fold so you get a firm crease.
  • 2.
    Fold a second piece of Neon Color Explosion paper. This time fold down a bigger flap (about 3 inches or 7cm). Tuck this folded piece under the flap of the first one.
  • 3.
    Glue the two pieces together. Squeeze a line of Crayola School Glue under each flap by the fold. Press down and hold.
  • 4.
    Use Neon Color Explosion Markers to write on each layer of your layered book. Draw pictures under the flaps.
  • 5.
    Directions for a Layered Book with even more layers! Start with 5 pieces of Neon Color Explosion paper, one of each color. Arrange so the short edges are all at the top.
  • 6.
    Use a ruler to measure down one inch (2cm) on the first one. Make a small mark on one side.
  • 7.
    Measure two inches (5cm) down on the next. Measure and mark three inches (7cm)down from the top on the third piece. Measure and mark four inches (10cm) down on the fourth piece of paper. Save the fifth piece for later.
  • 8.
    Now fold each one on the mark you made, lining up the edges to make folds straight! The fifth piece gets folded in half.
  • 9.
    Arrange all of the folded pieces in order with one tucked inside the other so you can see the layers.
  • 10.
    Squeeze a line of Crayola School Glue under the first flap along the fold and press down to attach. Then fold up the next flap over the first one and glue underneath. Keep doing that for each flap until they are all glued together.
  • 11.
    You’re ready to make designs!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rustic Cuisine?

     More fan-girl gushing here, my friends. This time about simple, delicious, so-called rustic cuisine that people have been eating for hundreds of years and will continue to eat for hundreds to come. That's probably the biggest disadvantage to being an American. We have no historic food culture. (That, and the fact that through our own actions {broadly speaking} we have a reputation of being pushy, loud-mouthed, arrogant bastards. If I ever get to travel, I swear I will use the very good manners I have been taught.)
     Granted, this reason is because we are a country of many different cultures, and believe me, I'm not complaining. We have access to so much amazing food, music, art, that there's plenty to 'borrow' if you're like me. (And, let's face it: being of English, Swede, Irish, Scots, Welsh and German descent, my own food cultures leave a lot to be desired. Unless you like scones. Which I do. Though I haven't had an opportunity to try any authentic or even Americanized {i.e. ruined} German food...except sauerkraut. Which I love. German readers, share recipes, I beg of you!)
     Anyway, here is what I made for dinner this evening. Probably (broadly) Italian (maybe Sicilian?), definitely delicious. Another Rachael Ray (which is why I'm thinking Sicilian): Parmesan Polenta with Mushrooms and Chard. Simple, unfussy, delicious. Comfort food at its best.

  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 cup quartered white mushrooms (I used an entire 10 ounce package) 
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (I used grated Asiago. I don't like Parm.)

     In medium pot, boil stock. Add polenta and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, 20 minutes. In large skillet, cook garlic in EVOO over medium until golden, 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook 5 minutes. Add chard and cook until wilted, 3 minutes; season. Stir cheese into polenta; season. Serve topped with mushroom mixture.


     And no, I'm not going to post daily about my dinner adventures (unless they get really wild) but if I manage to make something that makes me salivate while I'm cooking (I LOVE the smell of garlic cooking in good olive oil!!) and the first bite makes me say "Oh my god, this is GOOD!" I am definitely going to share it. Because something that causes gastric happiness should be shared with the world. Or at least with the people that drop by to read my ramblings.
     Speaking of olive oil, I am currently reading Mort Rosenblum's fascinating, informative and entertaining book Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit. It's making me want to plant olive trees and make my own olive oil. I live in Massachusetts. Not going to be a success. However, one can dream.
Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit

And still more family summer fun....

     If you live in Massachusetts (or are planning to visit), the Highland Street Foundation is hosting their annual Free Fun Fridays series: 67 museums and cultural venues open for free on Fridays all summer long. As I cannot seem to copy and paste (gr) the link is below:

This Friday the choices are:

   The Freedom Trail Foundation (Boston)
   Battleship Cove (Fall River)
   The Children's  Museum in Easton (I have NO idea where Easton is, lol)
  Tower Hill Botanic Garden (Boylston)
   Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (Boston)
  Cape Cod Museum of Art (Dennis)
  Danforth Art (Framingham)

    Admission is free to all of these places this Friday; you'll want to bring cash or credit with you for food, souvenirs, etc., not to mention a camera, and if you're going to do the Freedom Trail, very comfortable shoes. (I've done it. Great walk. Long walk.)   Enjoy your Friday!

Food Fan-Girl post

     I'm going to rave about food for a moment here. I promised you food earlier, and failed to deliver, but I am about to make it up to you in this single post. Last night I made the most kick-a$$ burritos for dinner: spicy, tangy, zippy, everything people like me love in Tex-Mex cooking. I take no credit for this. I have a subscription to Rachael Ray magazine. Thank you, Rachael Ray.

7 Layer Burritos


  • 2 cans spicy vegetarian refried beans (16 ounces each)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 3 jalapeño chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped, divided
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • Salt
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 3/4 pound pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
Serves 4


In a medium size saucepan, heat the beans with the stock, hot sauce and cumin over medium-low, stirring until warm, about 10 minutes.

In a medium size bowl, combine half the onion and jalapeños with the lemon juice and garlic. Season with salt; let stand for 10 minutes. Mash in the avocados to make the guacamole.

In a small bowl, toss the remaining onion and jalapeños with the tomatoes and cilantro to make the salsa; season with salt.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add one tortilla and cook until it starts to blister, about 1 minute per side. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Place one tortilla on a work surface. Spread on a quarter of the cheese, some romaine, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and olives. Roll it up, burrito-style. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and fillings.

Cut the burritos in half; divide among plates.

This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, visit

     Somehow my stepson ate 3. It was all I could do to finish one, and I felt like I was going to pop. Fortunately, there are leftovers. I will be having a very happy lunch today. Enjoy!!! (I know I did!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WildSister Magazine

To celebrate their third birthday, WildSister is offering everyone free copy of the July 2014 issue! Check it out here:


Are you living your life consciously?

If not, how can you change this? If you're not sure, read more.

How do I know I am living my life consciously? This question came to me as I stood at my kitchen counter preparing a morning cup of tea, gazing out at the neighbor's immense apple tree. I pondered it as I sipped my tea. How do I know? I realized I know when I'm not, and that seemed like as good a place as any to begin exploring this new question.

Dropping in....

This is just a quick line to say I have not forgotten about my pathetic little blog; I have a bunch of things to share: more family activities, posts for SageWoman, links to WildSister magazine, garden updates and food...and I will be back, hopefully later today, to begin this stuff! Stay tuned!