Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paper Weaving

I just love this activity because it is such good fine motor skills practice. And truth be told, kids could always use practice in using scissors safely and accurately.

Paper weaving is a craft in which thin strips of paper are woven together to create a colorful pattern. Weaving is a popular technique that is fun while also helping children develop dexterity and coordination. Weaving also reinforces previously learned colors and patterns. The nice thing about paper weaving is that anyone can do it.  Younger children can make simpler patterns using one color, while older kids can create more complex and interesting patterns with lots of colors, patterns and textures.

We started by choosing our colors. Buttercup chose, purple, light pink and a darker pink. We used a black sheet of construction paper as our base.

Materials needed:
  • A few sheets of construction paper
  • A ruler
  • A pencil
  • Glue


  • Choose the colors you want to use. To make it easier for us, we chose black as our starting point, the canvas if you will. Then we chose 3 more colors,  you can choose 1, 2 or more.
  • Fold one paper in half.
  • Mark a 1/2 inch line across the top to the paper (not on the fold side, the side that is open) This line is a guide so  your child know not to cut past that point.
  • From the folded part, start making a cut all the way up to the line you just made with a pencil.
  • Make the cut as wacky as you want. This will make for a nice pattern.
  • Continue making cuts across the paper about 1 inch apart.
  • Cut 1 inch strips of the other color(s) (I pre cut these for Buttercup, but your child can cut them)
  • Open the paper that you previously cut.
  • Begin weaving a strip of paper through the pattern, over and under, over and under.
  • When you get to the end, put a little glue on both ends to secure the strip in place.
  • Continue this pattern until you've filled in the whole paper.
  • Remember, if you started with your strip under, the next strip  has to be over.

    Marking and cutting the base paper.

9x11 sheet of construction paper
Paper folded in half

Marking 1/2" from top

Making a pencil mark across

That's how it should look

Buttercup making cuts

The cuts can be whimsical

Weaving the strips of paper

Almost done


Check out this video that shows you step by step. This is not my video but I liked it even though I cannot hear what the woman is saying (my audio is not working). But you don't need to listen, just watch. It's very good. It looks like she uses a magazine cover as her base. It's interesting and I might try that next time.

There you have it. A simple, inexpensive craft project for you and your kids!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kiwi Crate Review

I was approached recently to test and review a sample crate from Kiwi Crate. After looking into it, I was pretty excited to receive my Kiwi Crate because I knew Buttercup would just love it.

Well, a couple of weeks ago we got our package in the mail and Buttercup wasted no time opening it and exploring everything inside.

The theme of our crate was Dinosaurs! We were elated, since Buttercup is absolutely nuts about Dinosaurs.

There are three separate projects; dinosaur fossils, dinosaur feet, and a dinosaur tail. The crate also includes dinosaur cards with basic facts about different types of dinosaurs. These have dinosaur foot prints on the back for a coloring activity. Along with these cards there is a blank one for your child's own foot print!

The best part about the Kiwi Crate is that it includes everything your child needs to do the activities, felt, markers, paper, sticks; they even sent us a pair of child safe scissors. I thought that was awesome.

We got to work on  making fossils as our first project. Buttercup rolled out the dough (which will harden to resemble rock) and she used the toy dinosaurs from the crate to make imprints in the dough. Then she used sticks to make her own dinosaur skeleton fossil (instructions included).

Buttercup couldn't wait to do another activity and chose to make dinosaur feet. She cut felt in different shapes to decorate these little pull string bags that would be used to make the feet. She cut out felt for the dinosaur toes and used markers to decorate. She proudly wore her dinosaur "feet" all day and now they're in her closet next to her other shoes.


We can't wait to work on our next project - making the dinosaur tail!

I just love the idea of getting these great projects right in my mail box. I don't have to think about what we're going to do next or to worry if I have the right materials for our project. Kiwi Crate has made mom's life a whole lot easier!!

The Kiwi Crate is geared toward kids between the ages of 3-7. It is $19.99/month with free shipping.(I think that is such a great deal for the amount of stuff you get!) For more information, click here.

Disclosure: I received a sample Kiwi Crate to test out, use and review. The opinions expressed in this review are solely my own. I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chicken Scallopini Recipe

Have you ever eaten a super rich, super fattening, super delicious meal at a restaurant and then would love to make it at home?

That happens to me all the time. The problem is that we do not have the budget to go out to dinner all that often. The other problem is that I simply cannot eat super rich, super fattening food all the time. Well, I try not to eat like that at all, but sometimes what are you gonna do? It's wonderful and I deserve it.

That is where my husband's Chicken Scallopini comes in. We've had this dish at a chain Italian restaurant that shall remain nameless. It is one of our favorite dishes there. So, one day, my dear husband decided to attempt to make this meal for us. He is a foodie and chef at heart and can reverse engineer pretty much any dish. It's a real talent!

He did an incredible job with this particular dish and let me tell you, he made it a lot more healthy than you will ever get at the restaurant. You can eat it guilt free. And we do!

Here is my husband's recipe for your enjoyment. I hope you try this dish and you'll see how easy it is to make and how you can have rich tasting food without all the butter and cream used in many restaurant dishes.


4 ounces lemon juice
2 ounces white wine
4 ounces cream (light)
2 ounces skim milk
1 tbsp flour

6 -8 chicken breasts (3-ounces each)
olive oil, for sauteing chicken
2 3/4 cups flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging
6 ounces bacon bits (or cooked pancetta)
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
12 ounces artichoke hearts, sliced

To make the sauce:
  1. Heat the lemon juice and white wine in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce by one-third.
  3. Mix flour and cold milk in a separate bowl, until there are no lumps.
  4. Add cream and flour/milk mixture to the saucepan and simmer until mixture thickens (3 to 4 minutes).
  5. Slowly add butter until completely incorporated.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Dreding the chicken.
To make chicken:
  • Heat a small amount of oil and two tablespoons butter in a large skillet.
  • Dredge chicken in flour and sautee in pan, turning once, until brown and cooked through.
  • Remove chicken from pan.
  • Add more oil to pan.(you'll use it to cook the veggies)
  • Add remaining ingredients to pan (bacon, mushrooms, artichokes)
  • Cook over low heat for 5-10
Cook the chicken until it's nice
and brown.
Sauce with veggies added in.

Assembling the dish:
  • Once you have your sauce ready and the vegetables are sauteed, add the sauteed vegetables to the sauce.
  • Cook any pasta you like according to the directions on the box. (we like to use angel hair or linguini)
  • Plate some pasta, place a piece (or two) of chicken on top of the pasta and spread the sauce over everything.
  • Enjoy!!

The finished dish!

How do you enjoy restaurant style dishes without all the fat? I'm always looking for new ideas and ways to enjoy rich foods without all of those pesky calories!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review and GIVEAWAY!!! (Closed)

I am so excited to be reviewing the What to Expect books and offering you this GIVEAWAY. I'm excited because I just love this series of books and now I get to share them with you.

I read the first book in the series, What to Expect When You're Expecting, when I was pregnant with my first child. I got the book as a gift and I have to say it is one of the best gifts anyone can give to a pregnant woman.

As a first time mom, I was going through all kinds of emotions, talk about being hormonal! I was excited, scared, curious, happy, elated, and terrified; all in a matter  of minutes. Most of all, I didn't know what to expect(see what I did there?). And this is where the book comes in. It tells you that it's ok to feel all of those things. Not only is it ok, but it's completely normal.

I really loved checking the book to see what my baby looked like in the womb and following the growth patterns monthly. And anytime I had a question about pregnancy or what I was feeling, I consulted the book and usually got my answer.

This book empowers the pregnant woman by providing her with information. For example, when you're pregnant, whether it's with your first, second, or third child, you are most likely feeling overwhelmed. Knowing what you should ask your doctor during routinge appointments takes away some anxiety and lets you feel prepared. Having this go to resource that helps you in all aspects of your pregnancy is really priceless.

Then I had my precious baby and was given What to Expect: The First Year. I think this may be my favorite of the three books. It has a whole section dedicated to illnesses which was great because I didn't feel the need to call my doctor every day or even rush to the hospital needlessly. I had this amazing, informative book to allay my fears and keep me calm. Not only does the book list common illnesses, it teaches you simple home remedies to take care of a lot of the little health issues that may come up in a baby's first year.

It was great being able to know what babies usually do at different months and to see if my own baby was doing those things. I have heard critics say that this creates anxiety for parents, especially if their children are not growing or performing according to the book. But that was never my case, because I looked at it as a guideline. And if my child didn't quite do what the book said, I may have paid a little more attention. That's all.

Now, the What to Expect writers have done it again! They have released What to Expect: The Second Year and I couldn't be happier.
Some of the things you can expect in this new book will be familiar if you've read the other books. For example, there is plenty of information on your child's milestones, tips on daily care and how to spot problems.
Additionally, there is information about potty training, personal grooming (teeth brushing, bathing, hair washing, etc), and behavioral issues that start during this second year and how to handle them!! Love it.

Now here's the fun part.  I am excited to offer 2 Adventures of a Homeschohool Mom readers a collection of the What to Expect Book Series (that’s right 6 books in all, so 2 winners will receive 3 books each).
  • What to Expect When You're Expecting
  • What to Expect The First Year
  • What to Expect The Second Year

Just use the Rafflecopter entry form below. It's as simple as that! You can enter more than once, upping your chances of winning! This giveaway is open to US residents only.


Southern California in pictures (mostly)!

I'm an East Coast girl all the way, born and raised in the Garden State (where did they get that nickname, really!). But I love to travel. Everywhere, anywhere, often. Or as often as our budget allows.

My husband has a special love for California. I don't know how to explain it. He is fascinated by it, he would live there if he could, he would just pick up and move. I have to say that I don't share his fascination or at least I didn't until recently. He's been trying to get me to go to L.A. for a few years. I have resisted; for no particular reason. I just didn't think I would like it; the fakeness it all, the traffic, the whole Hollywood scene. Boy was I wrong.

This year my husband convinced me to go. So I planned and researched and actually got excited about our trip.

Getty Center Gardens
I now have to admit that I fell in love with Southern California (I had already been in San Francisco and loved it). The weather was fabulous, the people were surprisingly nice, and everything is so pretty. Yes, we did the tourist stuff - Walk of Fame, Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive.


But then we did other stuff. We went to Santa Monica during the week when there are fewer tourists. We drove around Beverly Hills, not looking for celebrity houses, but enjoying the beauty of it, the architecture and glamour. We visited the Getty Center - one of the highlights of our trip. We visited different neighborhoods, traveled up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, up to Santa Barbara and down to San Clemente. Each town so different from the previous one.

Yes, we faced traffic. Admittedly not as bad as everyone says. It was manageable. Yes, you do feel that every pretty person is an aspiring actor, always "on an audition", whether as your waiter or salesperson, hoping to be discovered. No problem.

Beautiful House in San Clemente

A quiet moment at the Mission in
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Mission
Bronson Gates
Love him!!
Beverly Hills

Lost on the way to the Hollywood sign

The family

Buttercup found a seat to rest

Santa Monica

A beautiful tree! Look at the roots.

Buttercup got pampered at an US
Magazine Event
We all had an amazing time. It was a chance for the four of us to relax, be together and recharge our batteries. It was a much needed vacation. And we got to see old friends too!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Teaching Contractions in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade

Contractions are a funny thing, because once you know how to use them, you don't even think about it, it becomes second nature. But until then, it takes practice. Contractions are not easy for young children to master.

When Buttercup was in 1st grade, I introduced contractions and she initially had a hard time with it. I wanted to find a way to reinforce the idea without repetition or too many worksheets. There wasn't anything interesting on the Internet or in books, so I had to create an activity myself.

I came up with these flash cards that Buttercup and I use to play games. The flash cards come in pairs, so one of the pair has the two words written out (you are) and the other card has the corresponding contraction (you're).

  • The first game we played was simple. I showed Buttercup the words card, and asked her to read it. Then I showed the contraction card and I read it. We played his game until we got to the point where Buttercup would read both cards.
  • Another game we played was one where I would "flash" a words card and Buttercup would say the corresponding contraction. This was a favorite activity for her.
  • Then I would change it up and "flash" the contraction and she would tell me the words.
  • Contractions Match Game - I spread out the flash cards face down on the floor and we took turns flipping over two cards. If the words card matched the contractions card we keep the cards, if not turn them down again and another player would take a turn.
  • Sometimes Buttercup liked to play with the flash cards on her own and she would line them up side by side in two columns randomly (words cards in one column, contractions cards in another). The she would pick a card from one column and try to find its corresponding card in the other column. 
There are many ways to use these flash cards and they can be purchased in my shop for only $2.00. Once you print them, they can be laminated and will last a long time.

By making some of my original products available for a small charge, I can keep this site going and offer many more things for free as I already do.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ideas to start off the School Year right!

As most of our kids head back to school or {home} school, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some ideas to help make this time go as smooth as possible. Some kids have fears or anxieties about going back to school. Others just don't want their summer to end. Whatever the reason, school must start and routines must be followed. Alarm clocks will ring, lunches have to be made and kids will be running to catch the bus. For home schooled kids, they will also have to get back into their routines, follow schedules and start new activities.

Here are some of the things we like to do around the time school starts back up again.

  • Start talking to your children about school a couple of weeks before it actually starts. Getting them emotionally prepared for school is as important as having their school supplies in order.
  • Plan a special outing or activity for the day before school starts. Don't do anything that runs late because you'll want to get them to bed early.
  • Ask the kids to help you come up with lunch ideas. This will make them feel part of the decision making process.
  • Ask them to make a list of the things they are looking forward to in the new school year. This will get them thinking positively about school instead of dreading it.
  • On the first day of school (or the first few days) send them a note in their backpack or lunchbox.
  • Make a special back to school dinner of their favorite foods.
  • Don't forget to take their picture on the first day (do this again on the last day of school). It's remarkable how kids change from September to June. This one is more for you than your kids!
  • For homeschooled kids, talk to them about the upcoming year and get their input on what they'd like to learn. (In our house, this is an ongoing process throughout the school year)
  • Whether your kids are homeschooled or not, take them fall clothes shopping. They'll most likely need new clothes either way. If they attend school, let them pick out their first day clothes. (Pick them out the night before to avoid that stress early in the morning.
  • Wake up your kids a little earlier than usual and have a special breakfast together.
  • Talk about all the fun and exciting things that will happen this school year (new teacher, band, sports, music)
Wherever your kids attend school, make sure they are excited about learning, making new friends, and exploring new things.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!