Saturday, December 22, 2012

Super Easy Oreo Mint Bark

My kids call it "That Mint Oreo Stuff" but it most resembles a bark candy...
You can call it whatever you like. I call it gone!

Super Easy Oreo Mint Bark
Makes about 50 Pieces

2 Bags Vanilla Candy Wafers Separated (different colors)
2 Sleeves/Rows Oreos
1/8 t Mint Extract

Prepare a cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper or heavy duty aluminum foil.
Place Oreos in a gallon zip-lock bag and crush them.
Melt wafers according to direction (microwave or double boiler) – keeping colors/bags separate.
Stir mint extract into color that will be your base.
Carefully spread mint chocolate over the prepared cookie sheet.
Cover with crushed Oreos, pressing them lightly into the base layer.
Drizzle/spread the other batch of melted wafers over the top.
Refrigerate until hard then ‘crack’ into bite size pieces.
Can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 6 weeks (but only if well hidden in the back).

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I don’t want to talk about it. Can’t I just write about Christmas? Or the end of the world? I had some really witty lines about being out of time and the holiday to-do lists that the zombies would find. I don’t want to talk about it, but I know that I have to… This week writing about anything other than the Sandy Hook Massacre would be disrespectful.
Right now everyone knows. On Friday December 14th, 2012 Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother then drove to an elementary school and took 26 more lives, most of them less than 8 years old. What everyone doesn’t know is why. The last life he took was his own. We can’t even ask him.
It is instinct in times like this to hold our children more tightly and remind them that they are loved. We stop, listen and interact with them on a level a bit deeper than we did the day before. We soften the message with hugs and kisses, but what we are telling them is that if they were gone tomorrow, the hole left behind would be unimaginable.
My children include a two year old deep in the stage of “Why?” She asks the question incessantly. “Why?” is daddy going to work. “Why?” can’t she have another cookie. “Why?” does she have to let the kitten go when she is holding her upside down by paw and tail. Each explanation is met with a follow up question; another round of “why?”
This week I have realized how much she reflects us in the face of tragedy.  “Why did he do it?” “Why didn’t someone see the signs?” “Why did he have access to so much weaponry?” “Why hasn’t he/we/them/us/they/you/she/me done something to prevent things like this?” Each attempt at an answer brings forward another round of “why?”
We try our best to answer the questions. “Why?” is so simple yet to answer it honestly the explanation must be complex; sometimes so complex we cannot fully comprehend. We grab for any explanation that makes sense. How do you comprehend the incomprehensible?
My daughter’s incessant questioning only ceases when she reaches an answer that suits her. Here too she a reflection of us. We settle on explanations that fit our world view: gun control, mental health care, school security, parenting, religion, video games, the list goes on. No matter how woefully incomplete our personal explanations may be, we hold tight to them. Action can only happen when we have an explanation and we need to take action now.
I hope that we can and will take meaningful action to prevent anything like this happening again, but in order to do so we must come to some agreement on the causes. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that if we stop the conversation with an authoritarian “Because” we will never get there. We must stop, listen and interact with each other on a level a bit deeper than we did the day before this tragedy. To do anything other would be disrespectful.
I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Decorating Gift Bags with DIY Foam Stamps

Decorating Gift Bags with DIY Foam Stamps
I love this project because it is great for a wide range of ages. The samples shown were done by the elementary school kids I work with.
We used:
Paper bags (mine had handles but not required)
Foam sheets (any color - scraps are fine)
Chipboard (aka cereal box cardboard)
Glue sticks
How we made the stamps:
Cut out foam shapes
Most everyone used a lot of little pieces to make their image
Glued them to the chipboard to make a design
Some kids tried to make words. This is harder than it looks because the words and the letters have to be backwards!
How we printed the bags:
We used paint brushes to put paint onto the foam so we could use different colors at the same time
Pressed them onto our bags, then lifted carefully
Did it again and again
Let them dry
Printed the other side
If we do it again we will:
Have lots of big paper to print matching wrapping paper
Have feathers and glitter and buttons and other fun stuff to add after they are dry
Plan different designs together & share our stamps

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Pigeon Wants to be a Puppet - Toddler Art Project

The Pigeon Wants to be a Puppet

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Mo Willem’s Character Pigeon

Books: Don’t Let the Pigeon Driver the Bus, Pigeon Wants a Puppy, or any Mo Willem’s book starring Pigeon

Construction Paper (Light blue, Orange, Black & White)
Craft (popsicle) sticks
Glue Sticks
Adults get to use Scissors

 Prep: Cut out Pigeon heads from the light blue paper, a nickel sized white circle and a dime sized black circle for the eye, a ‘W’ shape for the beak and a small rectangle for the collar (see picture). By folding a full sheet in quarters like an M you should be able to make 8 heads per sheet. Cut with the fold at the top.

Activity: Each child gets a craft stick, a head, eye pieces, beak, collar and a glue stick. To assemble, put glue all over the ‘inside’ of his head then fold over the stick. Glue on the big circle then the little one for the eye, then add the beak and the collar. Hide the hot dogs and the keys – you have your own pigeon!

Notes/Tips: Ask older kids what they think the pigeon should or should not be able to do and why. Encourage them to act it out with their Pigeon.
Having the pieces twofold so they wrap around the stick isn’t essential, but it makes them more durable for play.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Morning Glory Seeds

To spite poor conditions and neglect, from mid summer into fall our back fence is graced with pink, blue and purple morning glories. It is December now. The last blossoms are gone. Hanging from the vines are paper thin orbs backed by crisp stars; gracefully wrapped packages of potential waiting for spring. Sleeping beauties...