Thursday, August 7, 2014

Super Easy French Bread

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I do not know about you, but Rob and I loves a warm..homemade bread. I used to be intimidated by the thought of making my own bread.  Ive dealt with " failed " bread..yep..been there...Bread that didn't rose...bread that is as hard as a rock..bread that is flat as a squished pillow.  When I see a recipe that calls for anything yeast on it.. my initial thought would be.. " ha..that is not happening ".  Just like anything else, practice makes it perfect :) I faced that "yeast fear" ( wondering now if that term even exist) and I am proud to say ( drum roll here) I can make a bread.  I promise you this is a very easy way to make a French Bread.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour, more for kneading
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water ( 120 F )



Directions:

Using your mixer , combine the  2 cups flour , salt, sugar and yeast.
Add water and beat for 3 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup of flour or enough flour to make it kneadable and soft.
Place your dough in a floured surface and knead for about 3-5 minutes until smooth. It should also be elastic.



Place your kneaded dough into the bowl, cover  ( I used a tea towel)  and let it rise for 45 minutes.


After 45 minutes, punch dough down. Using a rolling pin.. roll your dough into a long rectangular shape.


Starting at the long end, roll it up ( like a jelly roll).


Put the rolled dough into a greased cookie sheet  parchment lined cookie sheet ( seam side down) , cover with a wet towel and let it rise again for about half an hour. Your dough may take longer o rise if your house is cold.


( my dough looked like this after the second rising)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make 3 or 4 diagonal slit/slash on top of your dough ( use a sharp knife)

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it is golden brown. Let it cool.

Serve it with stews or warm soup, or pasta dishes. Make a garlic bread or much better..just butter it up! It is awesome by itself.




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Homemade Bread Loaves 




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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Teach Your Kids to Get Dressed by Themselves

I am sure that your toddler or preschooler has been mastering their fine motor skills and is more eager to do things by themselves. Our girls loves to play pretend with costumes , and at age 2 our Lily has a strong opinion on clothes she wants to wear.  I am sure that you've seen their frustration when they try to dress independently.  It is necessary to teach this practical life skills while they have the I can do it by myself attitude. These simple tips will also help their fine motor skills.




Here are some ways and tips to help them get dress by themselves :

1. Help them master their buttoning skills .

     I made this "button frame" by using the things we already have at home. My husband's old button shirt and an old frame. I removed the glass part and used the cardboard part to hold the shirt. I did cut the shirt in the middle part and framed it. We started with 3 buttons only, so she won't feel overwhelmed.



Show them first how its done , I just simply told her that the buttons needs to go through the hole.


I also made the "Button Strip" for her. A button strip teaches the kids to:

1.  To practice pushing the button through the slit, as they would do to button up their shirt.

2.  To practice pulling it out through the slit as they would do to unbutton their shirt.

3.   Enhances their fine motor skills.

You will need few pieces of felt ( find it at any crafts stores or walmart) cut it into squares approximately 3" x 3" , a ribbon ( I used a wide ribbon so that I don't have to secure the other end of the ribbon ), a decent size button , thread and needle.

How to make it :  Make a slit on each of the square felt , use different colors ..kids loves colors!
                           Sew the button at the end of the ribbon




If your prefer to secure the other end, just simply slip one felt square at the other end and  make a knot so it would act as a stopper.


2.  Teach the snap ons.

We used Lily's baby clothes with the snap ons.  Coach them to aim for the snaps centers and tell them to  push the pieces together until she hears a “click” . This can be very hard for them, she got  frustrated .You can help her by pushing it down gently with her .



 3. Master the zipping skills.

Have you noticed that when your kid was maybe around 18 mos to 2 yrs old , they do know how to unzip their jackets? ( and it always happen when your just about to leave the house and in a hurry. True story.) Just let them be..it will serve them good later. Ha! Anyway..we used her own pants to practice her zipper skills.





4. Putting / slipping the shoes on


Well I don't know about you but I did try correlating the left foot and left shoe..right foot and right shoe. She looked at me with that face like I was talking in an alien language. There are so much things our kids will and can learn and we are all about simplifying things for her.  Learning positions ( left, right, top, above) will be another story.  Teach them how to put their shoes on  ..on the right feet.

We did wrote L on both sides of her shoes..told her the L should kiss together.



I cut this circle sticker in half , told her she needs to form her circle shape. You can also use a large sticker..any sticker and cut it in half.


Which kind of shoe is the best is really up to you. Rob and I choose to buy and use Velcro type.



Stretchy, slip-ons are also perfect picks for new learners. Show them first how you slip on your shoes. Encourage them to imitate you , while coaching her scrunch up their toes to help it ease out farther inside the shoe.

Never under estimate your toddler too, our two yr old knows how to put her shoes on. They are smart, encourage them.

If you choose to let them wear the shoe string type of shoes.. that's excellent ( always do what you think is best for your children). Start out by practicing their lacing skills.

See post on:  DIY LACING SET


5. Pulling the pants on and Pulling them down.

Pulling the pants on to get dress and pulling them down to get undress is also necessary.  Pulling them down is way easier but I suggest to start them early on this. I suggest right around when your potty training. Use a stretchy pants to coach them into pulling it up and down. You can save the mastery of buttons and snappies for later if you prefer. Always remember the saying..Follow the leader. Show them first and encourage them to imitate you. It may not be as perfect as you would expect them to do, but offer a support or a hand so they wont fall trying to balance. Practice. Practice..let them practice.



See post on HOW WE POTTY TRAINED OUR 2 YR. OLD IN ONE WEEK

6. Jacket /Coat.

Lay the coat on the floor zipped open , on it's back ,  collar near her feet,  have them stand over it and bend down, letting her arms and hands slip through the sleeves.  and tell them to raise their arms  to the sky so the jacket goes over her head, then wiggle the jacket down behind her back.

See this video by : The Hundred Languages of Children

7. Shirts and Tops

Use a simple and loose shirt. Lucy still has difficulty on this part, but she's learning every time. It just takes a lot of practice. Let them stand front of a mirror and guide a shirt over her head. Play the peekaboo game say, “Peekaboo, I can’t see you,” and ask her to pull the shirt down over her face and around her neck when her shirt get stuck in the forehead area .Hold out the sleeves and tell her to push her hand and arm through, one at a time.Lucy panics when she can't see , we tell her to calm down and breathe. It can really be frustrating but keep at it..they will get it. You can also encourage doll playing by letting them dress and undress their dolly.

At a young age, right around before they turned two..we taught them how to put their clothes in the dirty hamper. Our two yr old Lily mastered this , same with Lucy. Sometimes, they get excited to play right away..a gentle reminder is good.  Giving them simple responsibility is really good for them.

8. Socks

Starting out by placing the sock all the way over their heel , Let her do the last step which is to pull it up
over their heel and up their calf. Let them master this skill through practice until they can put on the sock starting at their toes.


My last and probably the most effective advice is to practice patience. It can be frustrating for a parent, believe me. . we've been there. Practice makes it perfect. Helping them to be independent will serve them well later on and you as well.  I hope the tips mentioned will help you and if you have awesome tips, feel free to share!



I would love to connect with you!

  










Monday, August 4, 2014

Easy Salt Dough Handprint Keepsake

  Do you all have a memory box of things you kept when your kids were little or babies? I do. I'm a sentimental momma. If you don't ..I think you should but don't hoard. Just choose a few that really means a lot to you and things that always hits the spot kinda feeling . To name some, I kept their baby blanket , their going home outfit form the hospital and first Halloween costume

   I know, it's hard to choose..right? As everyday with these precious ones are awesome memories . We may all have stressful, tiring and crazy days, but everyday is a gift. And believe me..their will be a whole lot "things" that you would want to keep as a keepsake as they grow.






  I like handprints and footprints. It's a blessing seeing them grow right before our eyes. Someday, those little hands will grow. The constant tugging and mama hold my hand will slowly dissipate.  I wanted to capture those hands. Here's a very easy way to make a hand print salt dough .



You will need:

1 cup of flour
1/2 cup hot water
yellow food color , or any color you want..you can just leave it white.
1/2 cup salt.

Directions:

Mix yellow or any food color with the hot water.
In a separate bowl , pour salt and slowly mix in the hot water mixture ( with food color)
Stir until salt dissolves . Gradually mix in flour. Knead.


Form the dough into 2 balls ( We have 2 beautiful daughters) and flatten . Make the impression.
I did bribed our 2 yr old with a sticker to hold still, so I can make a good hand impression.. Sitting still is not a strong suite for toddlers.


Using a toothpick, write their names at the bottom or make a hole on top if you plan on hanging them later. This makes a good ornament too. On a slightly different note, we LOVE ornaments.

Bake at 200 deg for at least 2 hrs. Depending on the thickness, you can bake until 3 hrs.

Once done, let it cool. You can paint it using craft paints and write their age and date this was made at he back or front..your choice.


So easy , frugal and a fun craft for the whole family.



Always remember , keepsakes are fun to make and fun to collect..but so is making memories! 

Collect the moments and not so much of the "things"


Enjoy!


 









Friday, August 1, 2014

Grilled Pesto Chicken Sandwich


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I had mentioned before that I do like having frozen meatballs on hand. Homemade or store bought, it is just convenient for busy days. I do like Costco's rotisserie chicken too.. they are very tasty in my opinion. You know what I don't like..those rotisserie chicken that you buy in the grocery store that looked like a Cornish hen for almost twice the price . Ok  maybe not a Cornish hen ..let's think smaller! If I can be an advocate for grocery shoppers, I would love to have a talk . Why would you sell shoppers with this small and sad chicken for that price? Is there even meat in there? Anyway so much for the rant.  Here's a 2fer for you, grilled pesto chicken sandwich and a quick tomato soup recipe. Make a big batch of pesto sauce, so you can use it again for pasta dishes..it is very handy for quick meals.


Ingredients:

2 rotisserie chicken breast , sliced ( can use precooked chicken breast as well)
4 Texas toast bread
butter
4 American cheese slices

For the Pesto Sauce:
2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, Packed
1/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Pine Nuts
2 Large Garlic Cloves
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste

  Make your pesto sauce:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor except the oil, and pulse.
Add in the oil slowly, pulsing continuously until you reach a smooth consistency. Add in salt and pepper to your taste. If you plan to use the sauce later or on other recipe, store the sauce in an airtight container in your fridge, adding a few more olive oil  to prevent discoloration.


Remove the skin if using rotisserie chicken and sliced in to chunky strips.


Spread butter on each side of your bread and grill it using a grill pan.
Give it a good grill on both sides, add in the cheese and spread pesto sauce on top. ( cheese will quickly melt and that is perfectly okay!)
Add in the chicken on top of the cheese and drizzle pesto sauce on top.
Carefully flip the other sandwich bread on top of the bread with chicken on it.


 

I just had to give it a bite.. a quick bite.


oh..and more " quick " bite. 

It is so good with tomato soup. Perfect combo!




Quick Tomato Soup


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Ingredients:

28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes , do not drain
2 cups homemade chicken broth ( can use low sodium canned chicken broth)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 medium size chopped carrots
2-3 ribs chopped celery
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
Pesto ( see recipe above) , optional for topping.

Directions:

Melt butter in a soup pot, Saute onions, celery and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover for about 10 minutes, cook until vegetables are tender.Add the tomatoes  with all the juices and broth. Bring to boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer, stirring constantly. Slightly mashed the tomatoes, ( blend it with a blender if you don't like it chunky, just make sure you let it cool slightly , blend it  in batches and bring the soup back to the pot). Slowly whisk in the sour cream and milk ( over medium heat). Done when the sour cream and milk are well incorporated with the soup.



Serve with a drizzle of pesto on top.



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