Archive for February, 2011

What tastes better than ice cream or sno-cones?

Monday, February 28th, 2011

My five year old grandson would quickly give his answer – kale. 

Yes, K-A-L-E

His daddy says that he prepares Laciniato kale which is also called black kale, Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale.  Could it be the name “dinosaur” that sways my grandson?  He astounds me with the dinosaur facts that he can relate.  This cultivar of kale is sweeter and has a more delicate taste than curly kale.

Daddy prepares it with some garlic and a little olive oil.

I decided the reluctant-to-eat-kale grandma needed to explore the attributes of this vegetable so off I went to the internet.

I learned that kale has more iron and calcium than any other vegetable.  It is an excellent source of beta carotene.  It is high in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, potassium and fiber.  Hm, sounds like a good reason to give kale a chance.

I found a recipe on the Food Network from Bobby Flay for Sauteed Kale.  It is quick and easy to prepare.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds of kale, coarsely chopped  – allow to sit for at least 5 minutes

3 tablespoons olive oil      

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup vegetable stock or water                 

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored.  Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.  4 Servings.

Hey, that was good – better than sno cones.  No comment about ice cream.

I did find another kale recipe that I’ll be trying.  It uses Italian sausage, cannellini beans, tomatoes and kale.  Now that really sounds good.

In my internet search I came upon an amusing story.  A mother was trying to convince her children to eat kale so she told them that it was National Kale Day.  (Perhaps there is such.  I didn’t check.)  She said that to celebrate the day they would have kale for dinner.  She related to them a history of kale throughout the ages – from the Romans to modern day.  And they ate kale – or at least tried it.  A creative mom.

Grandma is now on the kale band wagon.

Thanks for stopping by.   I’m getting ready for a road trip to visit grandchildren.  More on that in a few days.

Hum that tune

Friday, February 25th, 2011

My eight year old granddaughter introduced us to a new game.  She is a big fan of all things American Girl so this game might have come from the magazine or one of the American Girl books.

To prepare the game, she cut up a sheet of paper into rectangles about 2 inches by one inch in size.  On one side of the rectangle she placed a sticker so the writing on the other side wouldn’t show through.

On the reverse side of each slip of paper she wrote the name of a children’s song:  Mary Had a Little Lamb, Wheels on the Bus, Baa Baa Black Sheep, I’m a Little Teapot, the theme from Batman (well, most were children’s songs), Farmer in the Dell, London Bridge, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, ABC song and Over the River and through the Woods.  At Christmas time she adds Christmas carols also. 

The slips of paper are put on a paper plate with the sticker side up.  To play the game, a participant takes a slip of paper and reads the song title.  Then he/she must hum the song.  No singing, no words, just humming the melody of the song.  Others then try to guess the name of the song that is being hummed.

The first time I played the game, I drew the title, I’m a little teapot.  Boy, my hum rendition of that tune was not at all recognizable.  Try it.  How did you do?

Everyone has a turn.  We have no prizes, but we do have lots of laughs at some of the melodies that we hear being hummed.

It’s easy; it’s fun.  Give it a try.

Over the river and through the woods

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Do you remember singing “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go?”  We used to sing this with the boys when they were young and we were going to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

My grandchildren who live three hours away are going over the river to come to visit me for the weekend.  It will be fun.

When they pull into the driveway, my 5 year old grandson always  jumps out of the car and asks, “did the Easter Bunny come?”   I realize that Easter is about two months away, but I’ll answer, “Of course.  Let’s go look for eggs.”  These two grandchildren don’t visit me at Easter so I started a tradition of having EB (our name for the Easter Bunny) hid eggs when they come whether it be February or July.  A trip to Grandma’s means an egg hunt.

EB always hides 13 eggs in the living room.  Why 13 eggs?  Well, this tradition started as the older grandchildren were learning to count.  They could count to 10, but I wanted to stretch their abilities a tad so 13 eggs are hidden.  (The teacher in me again.)  They hunt for the eggs, count them,  and deposit the candy contents into two glasses from their set of play dishes.  It is not the candy they enjoy, but the hunt that they like.  Frequently at the end of their visit the glasses still have candy in them that they were too busy to eat.

After the eggs are found, my grandson will ask, “did you bake cookies?”  Again the answer is “of course.”  He will say, “May I have one?”  Yes, he says “may” not “can.”  His daddy has worked on the may/can usage very successfully!  Hurray for Dad!

I bake a variety of cookies for the children.  They seem to enjoy them all.  One of the favorites is Chocolate Crinkles.  You have more than likely seen a recipe for these chocolate goodies that are rolled in powdered sugar.  The tops becomes cracked as they bake.  I use a recipe from the   December/January 2008 issue of Family Fun.  It adds mini semisweet chocolate chips to the dough.  Really good.

http://familyfun.go.com/christmas/christmas-recipes/christmas-cookies-gingerbread/chocolate-christmas-cookies/chocolate-crinkles-678857/               

During the weekend I know that we shall play school.  My granddaughter will be the teacher.  She is 8 years old and gives writing assignments and quizzes on the states and capitals.  Wow.  I try to be a good and attentive student because her 5 year old brother likes to pretend that he is the principal and I don’t want to be sent to the principal’s office.

In the playroom there is a play kitchen with a range, microwave and coffee maker.  There are play foods and a set of play dishes.  With these items we play restaurant or have a home kitchen. 

For the restaurant I bought some pads of Guest Checks at Staples that the children like to use to write down their orders.  I also printed out a menu for their restaurant.  My 8 year old granddaughter assigned prices to the items – interesting prices.  A hot dog is $3.61.  A side dish of broccoli is $.06 and a cookie is $2.06.

At some point during the weekend we will play Hide the Animals.  We have a basket of 11 (remember teaching little ones to count beyond 10) rubber farm animals from a Farm Toob by Safari Ltd.  The children take turns hiding them in the living room.  Then the other grandchild and I hunt for them.  When this game first started, the 5 year old was 3.  He would “hide” animals by piling several in plain sight.  Now it is more difficult to find the animals.  In fact, once we could only locate 10 of the animals.  We looked and looked.  And the next day we looked and looked.  Daddy even helped.  Still a missing animal.  I found the missing animal about a week later straddling the rung of a rocking chair.

There is always a book before bedtime.  I have a big stack of children’s books – some old and some new.  My granddaughter always  selects Tony’s Bread by Tomie dePaola.  Now she reads it to us.  Two other old time favorites are Bubble Bubble by Mercer Mayer and The Biggest Sandwich Ever by Rita Golden Gelman.  Then it is lights out.

Thanks for stopping by.  More about the visit in a few days.

Introducing Andrew Henry

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Last winter I frequently fed a squirrel who stopped by the honey locust tree outside my kitchen for a snack.  I called the squirrel Andy.  My grandchildren would ask me about Andy.  Summer came, and I stopped feeding Andy, and he found greener or nuttier pastures.  When fall returned, my squirrel returned.  This year I decided that Andy needed a formal name so I changed his name to  Andrew Henry.

This photo shows Andrew Henry in his corn cafeteria. My son built this so I can put out an ear of corn for Andrew Henry to munch on in comfort out of the snow.  In this photo he is looking into my dining room window with his “sad face” on.  He does this hoping that The Lady will feel sorry for him and come out with a morsel of food. 

I often refer to Andrew Henry as AH.  I did this when I was talking to my 6 year old granddaughter.  She looked puzzled.  AH?  I then explained that those were his initials and told her what initials are.  She thought a moment and then a big smile came over her face.  “Those are MY initials, too,” she said.  Aha, a teaching moment!  Then I asked her the initials of her brother, mother, father, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and more.  She enjoyed this challenge.  It has turned into a game that I play from time to time now with the grandchildren.

Andrew Henry and I decided to write a book to be given to the grandchildren at Christmas.  The book was a mix of squirrel facts and fun. 

It was not easy to take the photos for the book since I had to take them from inside the house because opening the door sent Andrew Henry running out of the yard.  I took the photos through the window and thus through the screen.  Therefore, they were not as clear as I would I have liked them to be.  I am considering removing the screen so my pics will be better.  I know, I know, sometimes I get carried away.

In the book Andrew Henry told the children that his scientific name is sciurus carolinensis and that he is a grey squirrel.  Squirrels generally live alone and not in groups like a flock of ducks or a gaggle of geese.  However, when a few squirrels are together, it is generally called a scurry.  I often have a scurry of squirrels in my yard these days because word has gotten around that this is a good place to find a kernel of corn or a stray peanut.

Andrew Henry also said that squirrels communicate by waving their tails to other squirrels.  This means “go away.”  Squirrels use their tails for balance and to act as a parachute if they happen to fall.  We have one visiting squirrel who is without a tail.  His name became Tailless Timmy.  We did wonder about his falls since he has no tail to act as a parachute.  Here is Timmy munching corn.  Notice – no tail.

By the way I have noticed that the other squirrels are aggressive toward Tailless Timmy.  They chase him away when he comes to eat.  I would like to give some squirrels a time out.

Andrew Henry commented in the book on my cats who watch him out the window and he said that he wanted them to come to play hide and seek with him. Andrew Henry said that he hoped the grandchildren received what they wanted from Santa Claus.  He said that he didn’t want Legos because he doesn’t play with them.  He didn’t want an American Girl doll because he is not a girl.  He would like some peanut butter balls.  Guess what – he received them.  He asked the children to toss him a peanut whenever they stopped by to visit Grandma.

The books complete with my photos of AH eating corn and peanuts and playing with his friend Ralph were printed and ready for the grandchildren t0 open at Christmas.  The children enjoyed reading all about Andrew Henry.

When the grandchildren stop by, they grab a handful of peanuts and run outside or toss them from the porch on a snowy day so their buddy AH can have a snack. 

Company is coming.  My 3 hour away grandchildren are coming for a weekend visit.  I’ll fill you in on our plans soon.

Valentines in MY Mailbox

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

I received surprises in MY mailbox today – Valentines from my grandchildren.

The grandchildren know that I love jigsaw puzzles.  Both families gave me jigsaw puzzles for Christmas.  Add on Valentine’s Day.  The far away family decorated Valentine shaped jig saw puzzles for me.  I can pop them out and put the puzzle together.

They also know I am a cat person.  My granddaughter made a cute kitten for me.  My grandson loves tigers so much.  He found a card in the store with a tiger giving me a big hug.  Just perfect choices.

These cards are so much better than a box of chocolates or a dozen roses.  They are little bits of love made just for me.  I’ll treasure them forever.

Hope you have a day full of special moments.

A Valentine from Andrew Henry and Grandma

Friday, February 11th, 2011

First, let me say – I am not a scrapbooker or a card maker.  If you are, I admire and respect and envy your skills.  The cards that you will see here are less than perfect.  They are labors of love that I made just for my grandchildren.

Secondly, I have mentioned Andrew Henry.  I realize that you have not met Andrew Henry yet.  I’ll post his bio next week.  Andrew Henry is the squirrel that comes to my house daily for a ration of peanuts, corn, and, alas, bird seed.  My grandchildren all know about Andrew Henry and his habits.  They like to watch him from the dining room window and to put food out for him.   At Chrismas he gave a book to each grandchild that he (and his ghost writer) had written so it seemed appropriate that he should give them a Valentine.

Click on the photos for a better view of the cards.

The cards were made on card stock and decorated with a variety of stickers.  The small heart shapes at the top (pink on the pink card and silver on the blue card) are brads that fasten the two pages of the card together.

I am eager for Valentine’s Day so I can give these to my grandchildren.

Enjoy your special Valentines and please stop back again to meet Andrew Henry.

Who sent this Valentine? A Game

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

My grandchildren and I enjoy a game during the Valentine season.  It involves guessing the sender and sometimes the recipient of Valentines that I have made up.

An example would be:  (Click on the photo to enlarge the Valentine.)

A dream is a wish your heart makes.  I dream of Prince Charming.  Of course, Cinderella would have sent that.

Beautiful lady, try on this slipper.  If it fits, we’ll be Valentines forever.  Prince Charming would have sent this Valentine to Cinderella.

I select stories or movies or television programs that the children enjoy.  I write a Valentine greeting on a card stock heart and add stickers.  They aren’t fancy.  The hearts are handled and passed around so they need to be sturdy.

For those who are fans of the Pixar movie Cars:

To the prettiest girl in Radiator Springs.  I’ll give up the Piston Cup if you will be my Valentine.  Lightning McQueen to Sally.

Hey, buddy, let’s go tractor-tippin’ on Valentine’s Day.  A favorite pastime of Mater.

Grandchildren who know all the words to Rock-a-bye Your Bear would like these.

We know you like roses so we bought you a bunch.  We hope you enjoy this Valentine lunch.  From the Wiggles to Dorothy, the dinosaur

If you will be our Valentine, we’ll make Fruit Salad, yummy, yummy.  Fruit Salad, yummy, yummy.  Of course, again the Wiggles

Fans of the Toy Story trilogy will know who would send these Valentines.

You’ll be my Valentine?  Ye-Haaw.     From Jessie

Be my Valentine and we’ll go To Infinity and Beyond.  Buzz Lightyear would send this.

Friends of Thomas the Tank Engine will quickly tell you who might send these cards.

You are a very useful engine.  I’ll help you deliver these Valentines to Mrs. Hatt and the children of Sodor.  Sir Topham Hatt to Thomas

Well, bust my buffers, Lady, will you be my Valentine?  Thomas to the engine named Lady.

This is a game that needs to be revised each year.  A show or a character that was a favorite last year might this year cause your grandchildren to look at you with wonder and roll their eyes.  I have been told, “Grandma, I am not into princesses any more.”  Sorry.   Bob the Builder is also a memory.

When I played this game with my grandchildren last week, my 5 year old grandson suggested some that I should add.  He said a card from Charlie Brown to the little red haired girl.  I can do that.  He also suggested Shrek.  Hm, this grandma has not seen Shrek.  I don’t think Shrek will make the cut this year.

Imagination Movers, Winnie the Pooh, Handy Manny, Tinkerbell – if these are favorites of your grandchildren, you could make a Valentine that they might send to include in the game.

We play this game when we are together.  You can also send the cards to a grandchild you won’t see on Valentine’s Day and put the answers on the back.  I like to tuck some hearts into my purse when we are going out to lunch or dinner.  Then we play the game as we drive or while we are waiting for our orders.

Children enjoy the game,  and next year they  might say, “Grandma, may we  play the Valentine game that we played last year?”  Making memories.

Soon you will see the Valentine that I have made to send to my grandchildren this year.   It was a fun project.

A suggestion – my daughter-in-law reminded me that if you are helping pre-school or kindergarten aged grandchildren with the signing and addressing of the Valentines for their classes, START EARLY.   Little ones only can sit still to do a few at a time.  You might want to plan to address and sign a few cards each day of the week before Valentine’s Day.

Talk to you again soon.

Valentine Tree

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

There are Christmas trees; there are trees with Easter eggs. 

Last year I decided that we needed a Valentine tree to decorate my grandson and granddaughter’s home.  It was a secret project that we worked on when we were home alone.

I had walked around in the snow in my yard scouting for a shrub that could provide a good branch that would become our tree.  I wanted something that had lateral twigs so we could hang lots of hearts on it.  I settled on a branch from a viburnum and loped it off.

I wish that I had had the foresight to paint the branch.  A white branch or even a pink branch could have added an interesting touch to the tree.  However, we had a naturally colored viburnum branch tree.

We “planted” our tree in large terra cotta pot using stones in the pot to hold the “trunk” upright.  We covered the pot with foil and glued red Valentines to the foil to decorate the pot.

The children then set to work on the decorations for the tree.  I had  construction paper hearts, stickers, doilies, and photos of them from over the years. 

They decorated the hearts and doilies with stickers.  I punched a hole in the hearts and added white yarn to use to hang the items on the tree.

They selected photos of themselves that they wanted to have on the tree – from when they were younger, from special times in their lives, and togetherness shots.  They used photo mounts to stick these to hearts and doilies.

We hung the hearts on the tree.  Then we added a garland with glittering hearts to finish off the tree.

My granddaughter and grandson loved their completed tree and were eager to show it off.

This is a fun project to do with your grandchildren.

Thanks for stopping by.  My grandchildren and I play a Valentine game – “Who sent this Valentine?”  I’ll tell you about it soon.