Monday, February 22, 2010

Caroline paints again!

I have lots of painting projects to do, but I've finally finished one only because I had a deadline. (I need deadlines!) This one was for another school silent auction and has left me forever! It was good to make the donation, but it's weird -- it feels like a piece of me is gone. This one's entitled, Little Blue Girl on Green.

I finished this painting yesterday and the day before, I finished arranging a piece for my a cappella group. That was a first for me -- a really great creative project. There will definitely be some tweaking after I get some feedback, but I actually finished a piece for once! When was the last time I finished a composition? Probably about a decade ago -- for a church choir I directed for several years.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The latest in my chocolate chip cookie adventure

This time, I've used the "Good-as-Store-Bought Cookies" recipe from the book, King Arthur's Cookie Companion. They are pretty darn good, and have a lot of fiber (there's a lot of ground-up oats in there). It takes a little more work than regular chocolate chip cookies because you need a food processor to grind up 8 oz. of chocolate and 2 1/2 cups of rolled oats. They say these cookies are supposed to taste like department store cookies, which I've never had before. The texture of these cookies is pretty light, so it's easy to eat too many. I personally prefer a chewier cookie, so my next adventure, will be "The Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe from the same book.

ABC cards for my preschooler

Stefan's 2 1/2 years old now and is quite the sponge. He knows his alphabet, his numbers (1-10), his colors, and his shapes. Since I'm homeschooling Maylin, it makes sense to homeschool Stefan as well. I've been using the uppercase alphabet cards that I made for Maylin (and I've copied them so Stefan can play a matching game with them), and now I've made lowercase cards, too, for later. It doesn't hurt to start him on his letter sounds, so he listens to this phonics song on youtube. He loves it!

If you're interested in making similar cards, you'll need 3x3 squares of colored paper and card stock (glued together) or squares of colored card stock. Type up the letters in your word processing software (I used Century Gothic font in size 150). Cut and paste letters to your card and laminate using laminating sheets found at an office supply store. Cut out and use!

Friday, February 05, 2010


I've been making these gingersnaps for years. I think they're just beautiful and addictive, too! I use the recipe from Fannie Farmer's Baking Book, but I substitute butter for the shortening (no transfats in this house!). You will need to refrigerate your dough for at least 10 minutes before rolling though to ensure picture perfect cookies. I didn't refrigerate before the last batch and they weren't as uniform. The warmer bits of dough oozed out of formation.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Lentil ("dal") recipe

Many have been asking for the recipe to my lentil dish. I don't follow any specific recipe, so it's a little different every time (but it is inspired by a Deborah Madison recipe for dal). This is what I did the last time I made it:

2 cups red lentils (which actually look orange), rinsed and drained
1/2 small red onion, diced
about 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. turmeric
1 15-oz. can of coconut milk
2 cans of water (plus a little extra just in case)
few tablespoons butter
salt to taste
cilantro (optional, for garnish)

Add butter to a pot or Dutch oven. Heat to medium high. Add onion and garlic. Stir. When softened, add lentils, coconut milk, turmeric, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 10-15 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally until lentils are tender. If it looks like it's getting pasty, add more water. Add salt to taste. If you wish, garnish with cilantro for a contrast in color.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Cheerios multiplication

Well, we actually started off using chocolate chips, and then I realized, by the time we got to multiples of 4, that that would be way too many chocolate chips (I was letting Maylin eat them after the activity).

Math manipulatives are great. You can use legos, wooden blocks, beans,...just about anything. Kids love to do physical activities, and I think, probably learn more when their bodies are actively engaged in their lessons as well as their minds. For math, being able to see the math problem in front of them in concrete form is so much more meaningful than memorizing a whole bunch of facts (which is how I was taught growing up).

If you'd like to replicate our lesson, follow these simple instructions.
1. If you want to introduce multiples of two, then get two identical containers (I used Pyrex custard cups), and 24 Cheerios.
2. On a piece of paper, write out the number problems for 2x0 up to 2x12, leaving a blank for the answer to be written in.
3. Go over 2x0 and 2x1 with the child, showing that two times nothing is nothing, and that two times one Cheerio is two Cheerios (child writes in answers after counting the Cheerios you've placed in the containers).
4. Let child do the rest of the problems independently (adding one Cheerio to each container for each additional problem), but do check in once in awhile to make sure s/he understands the concept.
5. If the child shows enthusiasm for doing more, pursue multiples of 3s and 4s. Compare answers for 2x10, 3x10, and 4x10, as well as 2x11, 3x11, and 4x11, and have child look for patterns and determine answers for larger numbers.