Thursday, May 31, 2012

Music Friday: The Alphabeticians

There is a great resource in Portland called the PDX kids calendar. You can go to their website and sign up for a weekly newsletter that tells about different events going on that week in Portland (that are kid friendly of course). It is pretty neat.

That is where I heard about The Alphabeticians. They are a Portland band for kids and they are coming out with a new cd on June 2nd. I am giving you links to the previous cd because it is already out and I liked this particular song. They have a sort of rock feel to them with voices and intonation that remind me of The Bare Naked Ladies a bit.

I hope you enjoyed learning about this local kids oriented band.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Baked Brie: Dinner Plan Week 10

Day 1: Baked Brie with pears, strawberries, salami, and asparagus
Day 2: Pasta with Tomato Sauce
Day 3: LO
Day 4: BBQ Chicken in boxes (click link for the meal plan that contains the recipe)
Day 5: LO
Day 6: Carnitas tacos
Day 7: Quesadillas with left over taco meat/beans/olives/onions and cheese inside


Baked Brie:
 1/2 a round of brie
Phyllo dough or puff pastry
Two or three sliced strawberries
Ripe pears
French bread or crackers for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the round of brie in half and then in half through the middle so that you can stuff the brie. On one half spread jam on the other half cover with strawberries. Lay out phyllo dough and place the brie on top. Place the two halves of the brie back together so the jam and strawberries are in the middle of the brie. Wrap the brie in the phyllo dough by folding it carefully over the brie. Do this just a few sheets of phyllo dough at a time wetting your finger to get the edges of the phyllo dough slightly wet to make it stick together. Once it is fully covered in phyllo dough place it on a cookie sheet with a rim and back for about 30-45 minutes until the phyllo is golden brown.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Music Friday: Dance for the Sun


I recently heard a song off of this album called Let's Go to Work that is sung from the point of view of a child who wants to go to work with their parent. It is a really neat song with a nice calming but upbeat female voice and deep beats from a male voice. I didn't realize until I went searching around for more from the person who wrote it that it was a cd created for doing yoga with children. The neat thing about this album is that it has each set of songs twice, once on their own and a second time with the women talking to a class of kids telling them how to do the yoga.

That part of it would be much neater if it were a video instruction but I still think it is neat if you are a parent who already does some yoga and can help by showing the child while listening to the music.

I personally love yoga but have not been very good about doing it since I had children. While I was in school working on getting my Doctorate in Psychology I was doing yoga about two times a week and I noticed that even with only that much I felt so much better, my arms were very toned, my felt better emotionally after doing the yoga, and slept better at night. Now I still do sun salutations but the rest kind of gets left by the wayside without a formal class. I do notice that it helps me a great deal when I run to stop and do a set of sun salutations if I am out of breath. It makes me focus on my breath and regulate it.

Yoga is not just beneficial for adults but for children and teens also, both of my kids know the sun salutation routine at least in part but this cd is a good reminder that we should start adding this into our daily routine. Now I have a great way to add some child friendly fun to it!

Do you do yoga or meditation? Do you do yoga with your kids or do you think you will?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Alphabet Search Lends a Helping Hand

A few weeks ago I was trying to get a few things done before heading out the door and my kids were going a little wild so I quickly put together this little word search for my son and alphabet search for my daughter. It was so easy to put together and it kept them at the table for a few minutes doing something new just long enough for me to gather our things and get ready to go (and still take some photos of them).

I think this would be great while out because you can make endless versions of it on the fly. Just make sure you carry around paper and markers/colored pencils/pens or whatever. You could do this with shapes, numbers, emotion faces, animals, whatever.

The nice thing about doing it yourself is that you can make the letters larger so that it is easier for the younger kids to see and distinguish differences/similarities. It is a great exercise in sight words, learning the alphabet, matching, and concentration.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan: Week 8

Okay it is technically still Monday so I guess I am still on track here. Things have been so hectic lately that I just have not had time to be home let alone on the computer. So here is our crazy week of meal plans this week.

Day 1: Butter lettuce salad with asparagus, red potatoes, green beans and balsamic-mustard vinegar dressing. Steak, blue cheese and apricots.
Day 2: Left overs
Day 3: Eggplant Parmesan (fyi: I used italian bread crumbs instead of panko, this is such a yummy dish and super easy once you do it once) served with salad
Day 4: Left overs
Day 5: Boxes, with turkey, hummus wraps, green peas, apples and peanut butter
Day 6: Cottage cheese pancakes: From the wonderful blog Food To Grow.
Day 7: Sesame noodles from another great blog, Not Without Salt.


For the Steak and salad:

Enough steak to use as a topping for the salad, my family used one that was about 1/2 pound.
1/2 pound both asparagus and green beans.
1 head butter lettuce
1/3 pound new red potatoes, quartered

For the Marinade:

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Trader Joe's Mixed Seasoning in a grinder (it is a bunch of seasonings like mustard seed, black pepper, garlic, etc in a little grinder)

Mix in a plastic bad and add the steak, allow to sit for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.

Start the grill and allow it to heat. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Wash the veggies and once the water is boiling add the potatoes.  Add the asparagus and green beans after about 5 minutes. Allow to cook until the veggies are tender and the potatoes are able to be poked through with a fork. Meanwhile cook the steak on the grill to your liking (I like very well done but I know I am odd so you are on your own figuring out the timing).

While the steak is cooking make the dressing:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon good mustard with slightly spicy flavor
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon water

Tear the washed butter lettuce into bite size pieces and place on a large plate. Add the potatoes, asparagus, and green beans. Drizzle salad dressing over this. Toss the salad to mix the dressing. Slice the steak and place next to or on top of the salad.

Serve with sliced apricots and blue cheese.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meal Plan Weekly

Day 1: Omelet/ Scramble
Day 2: Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Day 3: Pesto Chicken Pasta
Day 4: LO Pesto Chicken Pasta
Day 5: Hamburgers on the BBQ
Day 6: Chicken sandwiches
Day 7: Tuna Nicoise Salad

Although these look kind of funny they were amazing! My daughter ate a bowl and a half of just the filling, which for her is like eating an elephant!



3 eggs per omelet
Ingredients you like in an omelet our family likes ham, asparagus, kale, cheddar cheese
Salsa for serving
Sour cream if you like for serving

Chop the ingredients so they are ready. Get a bowl and mix beat the eggs for one omelet. Heat a small frying pan or omelet pan on medium heat and lightly coat in oil. Add everything but the eggs and cheese and allow to cook until veggies are tender. Add in the eggs and make sure everything is covered by them. Push the edge of the eggs slightly toward the center of the pan and tilt the pan so the runny egg moves to the empty part of the pan. Do this moving around the pan, until there is no more runny egg that can move to the edge. Flip the entire egg/meat/veggie over and add cheese to one side. Allow to cook for an additional minute and then fold in half and move to a plate.

Turkey Lettuce Wraps: 

For the Turkey:

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tsp thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the Noodles:

  • 2 bundles cellophane noodles
  • Peanut oil, for frying

(OR) Coconut Rice:

  • Two cans coconut milk
    Fill one can with jasmine rice (we use brown but you can do white)

    In a small pan add the two cans of coconut milk, one can of rice. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low so it is just simmering until all the liquid has absorbed. (Non-stick is wonderful here, or a rice cooker)

    For the Stir-Fry:

  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled ginger (or grate frozen ginger)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 4 scallions; 4 minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms,stemmed and diced
  • 1 small can (3/4 cup) diced water chestnuts
  •  lettuce leaves, for serving
  • Soy sauce, chili paste and/or hot mustard, for serving, rice vinegar with hot mustard, soy sauce, and chile oil are awesome.


Prepare the turkey: Whisk the egg white, cornstarch and rice wine in a bowl. Add the turkey and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Make the stir-fry sauce: Whisk 1/3 cup water, the oyster, maple syrup, thai curry and soy sauces, the mirin and sesame oil in a bowl, then whisk in the cornstarch until dissolved.
Fry the noodles (or coconut rice): Pull the noodles apart into sections. Heat 3/4 inch peanut oil in a medium saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer registers 380 degrees F. Working in batches, press the noodles into the oil with a spatula until they puff, 5 to 10 seconds. Drain on paper towels.
Make the stir-fry: Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook, stirring until cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil to the skillet; when almost smoking, stir in the garlic, ginger, jalapeno and minced scallions, then add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the sugar and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the stir-fry sauce and turkey and cook 1 minute.
Make a bed of noodles on a platter and top with the chicken mixture. Serve the noodles and stir-fry with lettuce leaves and soy sauce for dipping.

Pesto Chicken Pasta:
Chicken Breast
Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Corn
Parmesan Cheese

Spread a teaspoon of pesto on each side of the chicken breasts. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until cooked through. Slice into bite size chunks. While the chicken is baking, boil water for the spaghetti. Slice the corn off the cob, cut the asparagus into bite size pieces. Toss into the pot of spaghetti water in the last 3 minutes. Drain in a colander. In a large bowl add the spaghetti/corn/asparagus, chicken, tomato and about 1/4 cup of pesto plus the cherry tomatoes sliced in 1/2 if you like). Mix to coat with the pesto and serve with Parmesan.


Ground beef
Garlic salt

Mix the above ingredients and shape into patties. Grill on the bbq on medium to medium low heat until cooked through.
Serve with buns, tomato, lettuce, pickles, cheese, onion, salsa, mustard, ketchup, etc.

Tuna Nicoise Salad: 

1 pound new red potatoes, cut in bite size pieces, boiled until just tender (a fork pokes in)
3 tomatoes (in bite size pieces)
1 hard boiled egg per person (quartered)
2 cans light/white tuna in water
1/2 cup kalamata olives (pitted)
2 tablespoons capers
1 pound green beans (boiled until just tender)
Vinegaret-1 tablespoon grainy dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, whisk everything but the olive oil. While whisking stream the olive oil in slowly.

Add all the veggies and the tuna to a bed of lettuce and drizzle with the dressing.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Music Friday: Rock n' Learn Spanish

Hey there, it is that time of the week again and I am finially on the ball this week. I just wanted to remind you first of a post I did a few weeks ago on Music Friday. Emelie Sande was the focus of the post and I am happy to report that she is finally being played on the radio here and her music is fantastic. Check her out!

This week I am heading back into kids music, yeah! My kids have been enjoying listening to an educational cd in the car that is to help them learn Spanish. It is a cd called Rock n' Learn Spanish, they also have DVDs.


I have to say that it is a bit loud but my 2 year old repeats the words already and with very good pronunciation for a two year old. My son can count to ten in Spanish. Since this is the best age for learning language (after all that is one of their main jobs during the first few years so they can communicate with us) I figure that listening to this will at least help get a few words in there brains. I already knew most of it but am understanding it much better now.

Interestingly there are many of the same benefits to brain growth with learning a second language as there are for exposure to music.  During the early years our brains actually build more brain cells to deal with new languages (including music)! This seems to help later in life with processing all information ( What a perfect pair. :)

I know that I still remember what words mean from Raffi songs that were in sung in Spanish that I listened to when I was a child. After taking a year and a half of college Spanish those are still the easiest words for me to understand. I also remember a lot of the songs we sang in French class in high school but not much else. This just helps to provide anecdotal evidence that music helps to reinforce the learning of a second language and that learning it young is very helpful.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting Outside, Good For Everyone

One of my person favorite things to do during the spring with my kids is to get outside and go on a walk. Using the sunny days to renew my energy and fill me with warmth as well as getting my kids some much needed time to burn off steam after strings of rainy days.

There are many benefits to getting outside other than just a chance to see the beauty of the day and get my kids tucker out. A few benefits may include getting vitamin D needed for keeping us healthy and happy, it helps with absorption of calcium, keeps our brain working, helps keep our mood up, may help prevent cancer, and more. Although you can get Vitamin D from food sources why not get it from outside where it naturally and directly comes into our bodies? Also recent research has shown that getting out in nature for 20 minutes may help decrease attention and behavior problems as much as medical treatments. (Do not take my word for this. Please research it on your own if you are suffering from any problems that require medications.)

There are also numerous learning opportunities for little curious minds when you are outside. You can stop and listen for changing sounds, look for movement caused by animals or wind, talk about the ecosystem and how each part works with every other part. Talk about similarities between the things you see and differences as well. How are plants and animals the same, what is different about the insect you just saw and the worm?

One place I have really enjoyed taking the kids (so you can go if you live near by) is a national wildlife refuge called Steigerwald Lake. This is a great easy walk with lots to see and provides a very different ecological system from the forest lake near where we live.

I highly recommend checking it out they have made if very kid friendly with little statues around the walk for added interest. Or if you do not live near by try to find a Wildlife Refuge near you.

You can sort of see Mt. Hood in the distance there.

Don't forget snack time.

Looking and the salamander statue

You may not get very far during your walk, but that is not really the point right? In a previous post I talked about doing a scavenger hunt and that is a great activity to take on a walk like this. Have fun, sunny days are coming more and more as summer draws near (yeah).

There are a few more photographs from this day at my photography blog,

What is your favorite walk around your area?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Curious George Discovery Beach: A Preschooler Game

It has been a while since I have written, I have gotten horribly busy and there just was not room for this for a little while. Sorry for the lapse...

I have been thinking about games again...we have one in our house the both kids started playing at about two years old. Well truthfully my little girl started sitting with us at about a year and tried to play along but just was not able to do it. It is called Curious George Discovery Beach.

This is a great memory game that mixes things up (literally and figuratively) by having you search for objects on the card with in a "sea" of blue. There are tiny objects that hide in the "sea" and when you shake the box they get mixed up again. Little puzzle pieces open to reveal a window into the sea.

This is a great game for learning about taking turns, strengthening memory, matching, learning to look for an object based on the picture, and can help in learning colors. The game does not take very long to play which is good for young kids.