Category: Encouraging Children

Teach Your Children To Cook: Melt In Your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

Teach Children To Cook Pumpkin CookiesThere are SO MANY amazing recipes available on the web today, but how many help and encourage you to make meals and memories with your children?

I mean, what are the holidays for? Are they not to make spend time with your family? To create Traditions? To pass down your favorite crafts, recipes, techniques, stories and more to your children?

This year we decided to try a few traditional holiday recipes from Better Homes and Gardens, modify them to suit our family, and teach the girls how to make them.

This recipe from BHG, the Melt In Your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies, was so easy for the girls to make. Your children will enjoy making and eating them!

We added cream cheese frosting, halved the recipe, increased the pumpkin, and used whole wheat flour (but you don’t have to). The BHG site includes a video if you want some extra help.

Teach Children To Cook Pumpkin Cookies

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Equipment Used

I teach the children to gather all of the needed equipment at the beginning of making a recipe. For this cookie recipe, we used:

Ingredients

I like to make recipes flexible. I comment here and there with a few modifications and suggestions.

Cookies: 

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, soften butter (in the microwave for 30 seconds for ease, or have left the butter out overnight).
  3. Add organic cane sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. We also added 1/2 tsp of cardamom for a unique taste, but you can leave it out if you don’t have that on hand.
  4. Stir until combined, scraping bowl occasionally.
  5. Add egg and vanilla; stir until combined.
  6. Stir in pumpkin.
  7. Stir in flour.
  8. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons, 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheets.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
  10. For the frosting, soften butter and the cream cheese (again, in the microwave for 30 seconds or have the butter left out overnight. Cream cheese is usually soft enough to mix w/o softening).
  11. Stir in vanilla and pumpkin.
  12. Stir in powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time. Keep adding sugar until the frosting is thick, not runny.
  13. Wait until cookies are cooled before frosting. Use about one heaping teaspoon of frosting per cookie.

I would love to hear about your favorite cookie recipes to make with your children!

Want to start with the basics and teach your children to cook? Check out: Teach Your Children To Cook – The Simple, Healthy, Cheap Way: For Ages 7+ With Parent Supervision and follow the 16 incremental lessons to give your children a good cooking foundation and give them a beginning repertoire of recipes that they can use to contribute to the family meals.

Better Homes and Gardens is one of my favorite magazines. Click here to subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens.

 

DIY: How To Make Simple Fall Jewelry and Hair Accessories

diy_fall_jewelry_accessoriesWe love Fall around here. The cooling down from a super hot summer, the change of colors of the trees, and the somewhat slower pace of life.

For the first time, we decided to tackle the fall theme and make some useful and practical fall crafts: fall themed jewelry and fall themed hair accessories.

Basic Fall Beaded Necklace with a Central Focus Piece

Lets start with the fiery orange necklace that my daughter Sarah created. Isn’t that center metallic piece with the orange leaves just stunning?




Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Necklace Supplies:

First, we went to Hobby Lobby and looked for two things:

  1. What was on sale – all our components, except for the toggle clasps which we call ‘findings’, was 50% off.
  2. What made us think of fall.

Sarah immediately found the metallic pieces and then the swirled orange beads. She then added the second set of slightly transparent beads to add texture to the final necklace.

I looked around a bit and found the beading wire for half off. The findings (the toggle clasps and crimp beads) were full price – but since the toggle clasps were the most expensive item, we got it using Hobby Lobby’s 40% off coupon! We used gold colored wire and findings.

The complete list then is:

  • Fall themed centerpiece
  • Fall themed beads
  • Beading wire (28 gauge)
  • Findings (toggle clasps and crimp beads)
  • Pliers or jewelry tools

Click here to find jewelry wire and tools on Amazon.
Click here to browse findings on Amazon.

How To – Steps To Create The Necklace

1 – Clear The Workspace

diy_fall_jewelry_accessories_2I love to start with a clean workspace. Since we don’t have room in our house for a separate place, I keep my craft items in bead boxes and stackable baskets. We then clear the end of the table, lay down a clean cloth, then lay out our supplies.

2 – Lay Out the Beads

Decide were you want the pieces of the necklace to go. Do not start beading on the wire until you have laid things out. You may want to experiment with different patterns, how many beads you use, etc… My oldest daughter Sarah created this necklace. She started by laying down the centerpiece. She then decided to do two of the smaller, slightly transparent beads and then one of the swirl painted larger beads. When she was finished, she added a couple of additional smaller beads onto the end.

Please note that the supplies in the photo above above made two necklaces.

3 – Measure Out the Wire

Now that you have the beads laid out, you also will know how long the necklace will be. Start your wire about two to three inches before the beginning of one side of the beads, then measure it out to the other side of the laid out beads, then add two to three more inches.

4 – Add Finding One (Toggle Clasp) to the End of the Wire

Since this Wiki article does such a good job in explaining how to start with the wire, the first half of the clasp, and the crimp beads. I will refer you to it vs. trying to explain it all here.

5 – Thread the Beads onto the Wire

Make sure your wire doesn’t have any kinks or bends in it, otherwise, the necklace will have kinks and bends. Now, start feeding the beads on from one end to the other. This is why you laid everything out beforehand, as you are starting at one end, then going to the other. This is the only way to make sure you get the centerpiece in the center of the necklace.

When you get to threading (putting on) the centerpiece, you will notice when you pick up the necklace, that it is sideways on the wire. You can do two techniques here.

  1. Make a simple twist of the wire (two times) until the centerpiece is facing forward.
  2. Use a finding called a jump ring. Thread the jump ring onto the wire instead of the centerpiece, then thread the jump ring through the loop on the top of the centerpiece. You may have to use the pliers to open up the jump ring, then squeeze it closed again.

6 – Add the Second Finding (Toggle Clasp)

This was the hardest part for us so I will refer to this video: Click here for a free, quick video from Annie’s that shows how to do the beads and finish with the second finding.

Annie’s has a series of jewelry making videos that go in-depth into many different techniques and types of jewelry to make.



Cute and Simple Fall Hair Accessory / Hair Clip

Hair Accessory Supplies

In case you did not read the above section, we look for two things first when looking for looking for supplies for our project:

  1. What was on sale – the fall holiday decor was 40% off at Hobby Lobby (oh Hobby Lobby, how I hope you have an affiliate program soon!)
  2. What made us think of the season or theme we are currently working on – in this case, FALL!

We wanted a cute hair accessory that girls (and maybe even women) would want to wear. We went through all of the fall craft supplies and jumped when we saw these felt sunflowers. They were perfect!

We already have a small glue gun, glue sticks and felt.

The supply list then is:

  • Hair clips (we already had these, I had purchased them for a good price at Walmart)
  • Mini glue gun and glue sticks (again, already have, purchased at Walmart)
  • Fall felt Sunflowers
  • Orange felt (had on hand)

Click here to find glue guns and glue sticks on Amazon.

How To – Steps To Create The Hair Accessories

1 – Clear the Workspace

As with the jewelry making, we clear a large space on our table to start our work. Hopefully someday we will have a dedicated table / craft station!

Since this project uses hot glue, we do not put a cloth under the work, but instead use a sheet of cardboard. We put the glue gun on an old plate.

2 – Set Out the Components of the Project

We make a neat pile of the sunflowers, another pile of the hair clips, plug in the glue gun and have a backup glue stick ready. We then cut out the backing felt in a round or oval shape from a simple piece of felt.

3 – Construct the Hair Clips

dyi_fall_jewelry_accessories_3I will be honest, this is pretty simple.

  1. Add hot glue to the back of the sunflower (please be doing this with an adult).
  2. Open the hair clip and place the sunflower on top of the clip (or, you can leave the sunflower on its back, then open the clip upside down and hold it down on top of the sunflower).
  3. Place the felt under the top part of the clip so the glue attaches to it too (see picture above).
  4. Press (this is the hard part, to not get hot glue on you) and don’t close the clip until the glue is dry (otherwise it will adhere to the bottom of the hair clip).

We have learned the hard way that the felt is a MUST have. Hot glue does not hold permanently on surfaces like metal and plastic. But it will adhere for life (or close to it) on fabric, especially felt.

That is it! Let it dry for a few minutes and then you can put it in your hair.

BTW, if you aren’t sure you want to dive in and make either of these at this time, you could always purchase the finished product from our Etsy shop!


diy_fall_jewelry_accessories_fb

Encouraging Children: Contests For Homeschoolers

homeschool_contests

Updated: June 2017

Academic, Artistic, Service Oriented, STEM and other contests and challenges that are specifically for homeschoolers or allow homeschooled students to enter.



Academic Contests:

HSLDA Contests:

Who: Homeschooled Students

Dates: One contest per quarter –

 

Dream Quest One Writing and Poetry Contest: 

Poetic Power Poetry Contest: 

 

 

Khan Academy 

Who: 18 and older

Dates: June 22nd – August 1st

What: 10 minute video explaining a complex subject – math, physics, engineering, etc…

Prizes: $300 for 9 finalists, $3000 grand prize, possibility to get hired to work for Khan making teaching videos

Breakthrough Junior Challenge 

Who: Ages 13 – 18

Dates: September 1 – October 10th

What: Make a short film about a big idea in science or math

Prizes: $250,000 scholarship + additional prizes

Artistic Contests:

HSLDA Art Contest:

Who: All Homeschool Children

Dates: Dec – Jan each year (Winter Contest)

What: See site for formats. Original, hand done art – 2D only.

Prizes: First – $100, Second – $75, Third – $50, Honorable Mention: $25

Doodle4Google

Who: All children K – 12 can enter

Dates: September 14th – December 2nd, 2016

What: Using any artistic medium, create a work of art in and around the word Google.

Prizes: $30,000 Scholarship, grant for school for technology (homeschoolers still get some, but much less), Chromebook Laptop, Android Tablet.

Reading Programs:

Pizza Hut

Who: K – 6

Dates: October – March

What: Set a reading goal and then meet that goal each month.

Prizes: free, one topping personal pan pizza each month the reading goal is met.

STEM Contests:

Science Olympiad:

Google Science Fair:

Who: Children / Teens (ages 13 to 18)

Dates: Feb 21st – May 18th

What: Similar to a science fair, enter experiments, observations, engineer creations, etc…

Prizes: $50,000 Grand Prize. Various other prizes for regional winners and the special category winners (LEGO Educational Builder, National Geographic Explorer, Virgin Galactic Pioneer, The Scientific American Innovator, and more)…

The Shockingly Easy Way To Remove Baby Poop Stains From Baby Clothing

The Shockingly Easy Way To Remove Baby Poop Stains From Baby Clothing


I have been blessed with a new baby girl – baby girl number 4 to be exact. I am also blessed to be able to nurse that baby.

What I am not quite blessed by is the mustard yellow poop that seems to seldom be contained by the diaper! And so, every week I have a pile of clothing with poop stains on it that need to be washed.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

You would think after 4 babies, I would know how to get the stains out of the baby’s clothing, but I don’t. So I keep doing the same thing – spray and soak and wash – and I am still left with a stain here and there that is permanently set in.

And then one day, I randomly asked a friend if she knew what to do to get the poop stain out – and she did! And it was so ridiculously simple, that I could have kicked myself. Here is what she said:

“Just wash the clothing, then put them out in the sun to dry.”

Yup, that easy. And is just happens to be summer right now, so…. last week, I washed the latest baby clothing with poop stains, laid it out in the sun to dry, brought them in – and there were no stains left on any of the clothing!

If you already knew this, be sure to share with your friends – I bet there is at least one who did not know this trick. If you didn’t know the trick, share it with all of your friends – there might be a few out that need to know.

If you do get the clothing clean, then you can trade it in to many places for credit when you baby outgrows them, including Amazon.com – Trade In with Three Easy Steps .

What are your best baby care tricks and tips?

Gymboree Sale On Now!

10 Ways To Serve Part 2 – Academics Are Not Perfect Religion

10 Ways To Serve Part 2 Academics Are Not Perfect Religion
Yes, knowledge is good. Yes, we want our children to be educated to do what God has planned for them. However, reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic is not what the Bible refers to as perfect religion.

What the Bible does refer to as perfect religion: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27 (NASB)

The Second In Our List Of How To Serve

Do you know a widow? How about a single mom who has been abandoned by her husband? I have seen the Bible define an orphan as one without a father, not just children w/o any parents. There are also 1000’s of children in the foster care system that one could consider an orphan, even if the parents still live.

This is where our time should be spent. This is where our heart should be. If you homeschool, you most likely have the time to adopt at least one family or one child to bless. They need you more than you need to complete every page of that workbook. It could be something as simple as taking their children once a month so that mom can have a day to herself. If you have ever spent a few weeks with your children w/o a spouse and/or grandparent to give some time, you will understand what I am saying here.

Maybe they need some supplemental food or household necessities each month. Maybe they need your families hand-me-downs. Maybe they need help with their homeschool. Maybe they just need a few people to understand the challenges they face.

In the end, although we want to be diligent to educate out children, God has made it clear what really matters.

If you know of a widow or single mom who homeschools or wants to homeschool and needs help, contact the HSLDA Ambassador Program or the HSLDA Widows Curriculum Fund. If you know if any other resources for widows and single moms, please let us know in the comments.

Follow the entire 10 Ways To Serve series.

10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10: #5 – Play In The Sprinklers!

10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10 Part 5

As I have been working on this series, I have been thinking back to my childhood – what things did I enjoy that cost very little or nothing (as least as far as I knew)? One memory that came to me was my parents turning on the grass sprinklers and running through them. I remember two different kinds of sprinklers: the one with lots of holes that the water came straight up through and the other one that came out two ends of a little rod and spun around.

In my child mind, this activity was free, since my parents had already purchased the sprinkler for the grass and they needed to water the grass anyway. But now that I am an adult, I do understand that there is a small cost involved.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

These days, lots of creative toy sprinklers are now on the market. The one that we are using the in the photo came from Walmart and I think we paid more than $10 for it, so I don’t actually recommend it. In fact, the whole toy sprinkler market almost seems a little overpriced.

If you want to find a good, old fashioned sprinkler, check out some thrift stores or here are a couple from Amazon:

Gilmour 876R Rectangular Pattern Spot Sprinkler
Orbit Metal 3-Arm Lawn Watering Sprinkler
Gilmour Circle Pattern Twin Spot Sprinkler 875

What is your favorite childhood summer memory?

Learning Toys That Last + 50% Off Learning Toy Coupons

Learning_Toys_That_Last

This post came about today because of my observation of my children. Today is a Sabbath, rest day and the children have a couple of hours of free play time. My 7 year old daughter proceeds to bring out a stack of toys – she loves learning toys. As I watch her, I realize that most of the toys are Melissa and Doug toys. Toys that we have had since she was a baby, originally purchased for her older sister. And I observe that the toys are still in great shape, still usable, and still interesting, even though she has had access to them for many years. Her 4 year old sister frequently plays with them also.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. 

If you can’t see too well in the photo, the toy that 7 year old T is holding is MelissaAndDoug – Snap and Sort. The other toys in the the stack include the cutting board (not sure of the exact name) and the Birthday Party. They still have all or the majority of their pieces, and they are all very sturdy and interactive.

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The Snap and Sort teaches art, colors, sorting, dexterity and creativity. The cutting board teaches the real act of cutting with the wooden simulated fruit, bread and veggies. The girls love to play Master Chef Jr. with the set.

Lastly, the birthday party allows them to create their own cake and party and they play birthday all the time. Someone at this company really got into the heads of what kids would love and continue to use, year after year. When I am asked by family what to get for my children for a birthday, MelissaAndDoug toys are always a suggestion.

Coupon / Deal: I have to state that I am not getting paid for this post – this is a “real life and I love these products, we really use them” review. However, I do have a couple of 50% off Melissa and Dog Coupon Codes for you and if you use it, I do get a small percentage of the sale.
– Buy One Get One 50% Off On All Classic Toys At MelissaAndDoug.com! Use Code: CLASSICBOGO At Checkout!
– Save Up To 50% On Select Toys Now At MelissaAndDoug.com! Click Here!
– Free Gift With Purchase: #8593 Shape Sorting Clock with A $40 Order Minimum At MelissaAndDoug.com!

What are your favorite learning toys?

Save On Melissa & Doug

10 Ways To Serve Part 1 – Have We Pushed Aside Service In Our Homeschool

10 Ways To Serve Part 1

So you are a homeschool family. You have your curriculum, your field trips, your schedule, your co-op, maybe some housework or Home Ec, and maybe some devotionals. Your kids are learning and loving it, and that is good. Then your elderly neighbor falls and injures her hip. You take her a meal. But she needs a whole lot more help. You have a schedule to maintain, goals to be met, extra curricular classes to take, and you just don’t know how to fit in the time to do anything else for her.

Have You Lost Purpose In Why You Homeschool

Does this sound familiar? Have you lost the ability to be available and be in service to others because you have gotten caught up in the school in homeschool? Have you even lost some of your purpose along the way?

I am not here to condemn, but to remind at least some of you as to why you are homeschooling – to teach your children God’s ways and to teach them to be in God’s service. Yes, many of us are doing a good job of teaching them to serve their family in the home, but I believe that God wants much more of us – He wants us to serve our community. This includes our church and our “neighbor.” He wants us to make serving a priority, not something we fit into our schedule, if and when we can.

Our family has setup our homeschool to school year round. The main reason we do this is so that we can be available to help and serve others, if called to do so. If we need to, we can take a day or even a week or month off of schooling and not be bothered by it. The school will eventually get done and the children will actually get more, grow more and learn more from the service, than they will from the academics.

A Couple Of Ideas For Service

If you are needing some ideas for what your family and/or children can do to be in service to others, the rest of this blog series is going to cover 10 ideas for ways to serve and will ask the readers to also contribute what their families are successfully doing to serve. Subscribe now to get notified as the rest of the series comes out.

Service #1 – Bringing Meals To The Sick And Elderly

Although I mentioned earlier in this post that bringing a meal to the elderly neighbor was only a small part of what she needed, it was not meant to diminish the act. In fact, the past 4 months, I have been the recipient of meal service a couple of days a week, and it was very, very helpful and I was very grateful for it. I was on bed rest, light activity only for the last half of my pregnancy, after having two threatened pre-term labors at 19 and 23 weeks an having hot, healthy meals help me be able to follow orders and not overdo. I also received meals for about two weeks after having the baby. Again, a great help so I could rest and recover.

If you don’t currently have a group or ministry at church that does this, you could start one – just ask around who in your community is having a baby, is on bed rest,or who has limited physical ability. Then, you can find out how many meals a week they can use, what their dietary restrictions are, then coordinate a rotation of people to bring them a meal in the afternoon or evenings. The lady that coordinated the meals for our family used an easy, free app called Take Them A Meal.She had about 10 people in the rotation, so no one got burnt out.

If your family has incorporated service into your homeschool, would you please share in the comments below.

Hip Homeschooling

HadABaby ItsAGirl

Had a Baby

With a little fear of dating myself, I just had to use this title. It is from a commercial from the late 80’s or 90s. If you aren’t familiar, WAY back then there were no cell phones. If you were out and about and needed to call home, you had to use a pay phone and make what was called a collect call to home. This involved connecting with an operator, telling them your name and maybe even the number you were calling, They then place the call and verify that the recipient would accept the call. If so, I think the charges were like $1 per minute – quite expensive.

The commercial went something along the lines of a new papa calling his family. To avoid actually having to pay the collect charges, he tells the operator that his name is HadABaby ItsAGirl. The family on the other end hears it and that is all they need to know, so they don’t accept the charges. Just funny for that time and I remembered it when I had our baby. I guess I have a little sense of humor. If you remember what company that commercial was for, let me know:-)

The point of all this? We HAD A BABY AND ITS A GIRL! As I am recovering and very much enjoying my new baby, I have not written much. And that is OK. There is lots of useful content on my blogs to check out, Leave us a blessing, read a few posts, leave a comment and pass my blog around to your friends and family.

Baby Almost Here

If you are a regular reader of A Simple Life Too, you may know that I am due to have a baby very soon. Well, she is now dropped and I have been having contractions, although not consistent yet. If you have ever had a baby, you know that creativity and all that is pretty much history those last few days.

Therefore, I might not be publishing anything new this week – but stand by and subscribe – I will be back soon with more of my 10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10 series, my 5 Ways To Make Money Working From Home Series, and some great posts about homeschooling, saving money, and living simply.