November 28, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: Relieving Holiday Stress

Between shopping, hosting, and budgeting there isn't much time for relaxing, sleeping, or even breathing during the holiday season.  With all the joy and merriment comes a lot of added stress; for adults and children alike.  Take a few moments to look at the relaxation techniques suggested by Stress Relief and sooth your holiday spirit.


November 24, 2012

DIY Stylish Neck Scarf

I hope everyone had a good Black Friday yesterday.  That's the one day of the year when I don't think you could pay me to go shopping.  I'd rather sit at home and make Christmas gifts.  Here is one I made in just a few weeks.  This knitting project is quick, easy, and oh-so stylish!  It's a short scarf held around your neck with two pom-pom buttons.  Because it's only 2 1/2 feet long, there's no extra length to drag around or get tangled up in.  That makes it perfect for youngsters.  It's style makes it perfect for adults.  I used size 8 needles and three 95 yd balls of Peaches & Creme Tropical Sea yarn.  I didn't follow any pattern; it's just a stockinette stitch rectangle with two button holes at one end.  I did say this was easy, didn't I?  Just in case you don't know how to complete any of the steps, I'm including links to YouTube videos demonstrating the techniques.

1. Cast on 50 stitches and knit a row of knit, then a row of purl (stockinette stitch).  Repeat for about 2 feet, or until you feel the scarf is the length you want for the button holes.

2. When you are ready for your button holes, on a purl row, purl 12 stitches.  Next bind off 5 stitches.  Continue purling 16 stitches, then bind off another 5 stitches.  There should be 12 stitches left to purl to the end of the row.

3. The next row is a knit row.  Just as the previous row, knit 12 stitches.  This time cast on 5 stitches.  Knit 16 more stitches, then cast on 5 stitches.  Again, there should be 12 stitches left to knit to the end of the row.

4. Continue to stockinette stitch several more rows until you feel the scarf is long enough.  Bind off all the stitches and knot your yarn.  Trim all tails.  

5. Now it's time to make the pom-poms.  If you have a pom-pom maker or have the opportunity to buy one (they're inexpensive), I recommend it.  I don't have one, and didn't want to wait until I had time to go buy one, so I made my pom-poms by hand.  It's not difficult, just tedious.  First, I cut seventy-five 1 inch pieces of yarn.  This is the tedious part.

6. Cut one more piece of yarn that is several inches long.  Gather all your 1 inch pieces and pile them up so that they are in a neat pile.  Tie your longer piece around the pile as tightly as possible.

7. Fluff the pom-pom so that it fills in like a ball.  Use the long strings hanging to attach the pom-pom to your scarf.  Repeat steps 5-7 to make the second pom-pom.

Now you have a warm and fashionable scarf to keep you or a loved one warm this winter.  As for the one I made, it will be a Christmas gift this year, made to match a toboggan I made last winter.  Perhaps the recipient's mother will be good enough to post a pic of the matching set after Christmas.  (Hint. Hint.)  What warm and fashionable yarn crafts do you have to share?


November 20, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: 10 Habits for a Well-run Home

This week's slice of the good life brings you a post I've kept in my bookmarks list and revisited often.  Life gets very hectic around the holidays and it is easy to get behind with regular chores.  Bernice at The Stressed Mom has a great list of tips to help stay on top of your daily chores.

How do you keep your house in tip top shape?

Happy Thanksgiving!


November 17, 2012

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.  ~E.P. Powell

Like many other holidays, it is easy to sometimes become overwhelmed at Thanksgiving by everything we are expected to do for the celebration to the point that we loose track of why we are doing it in the first place.  This year has been a year of tremendous change for my family and we are without almost all of our standard holiday traditions.  This has really helped me take the time to think about what I am truly thankful for and why those things and people are so special to me.  As we are on the road to forming new habits and traditions for our holidays, I took the time to do a little research and get some ideas.  I decided to share some of my findings with you.

National Geographic for Kids and History for Kids both have good articles summarizing the history of Thanksgiving on a child's level.

Fun Facts
Do you know what a baby turkey is called?  Do you know how to say "thank you" in Turkish?  Which balloon was the first balloon in the 1927 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?  Random HistoryFact Monster, and Brownielocks have the answers to those questions and many more interesting facts about Thanksgiving.

Crafts & Activities for Kids
Crafts and activity pages are great ways to get children involved and keep them occupied while you are busy with preparations.  All Kids Network and both have some cute craft ideas, while Busy Teacher and have dozens of printable worksheets.

Family Traditions
In what unique ways does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?  As my family goes through a transition, we are looking for new ways to celebrate.  She Knows and Squidoo have some great ideas that I'll definitely have to keep in mind.

Ways to Show Thanks
Family traditions can be more than what you do when you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner.  Better Homes & GardensThe Huffington Post, and Victoria Lynn write about ways to extend Thanksgiving beyond the meal, and even the day, to make the spirit of Thanksgiving a way of life.

How do you give thanks?


November 13, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: Printable Maps

This week's Mid-week Morsel is for parents, teachers, and geography & social studies buffs of all ages.   While digging through my very long list of educational bookmarks on my laptop, I rediscovered a link to Maps ETC, a website produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology.  They have an enormous collection of printable maps.  I'm not just talking about blank maps to color in; they have historical maps, political maps, black & white maps, color maps, and many others from every state in the country, and every continent on the globe.  This is definitely a site to add to your bookmarks list for future reference.  What must have links in your bookmarks list help you live the good life?  Please post them to share with others.


November 10, 2012

Celebrating Veteran's Day

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."  These are the words of President Woodrow Wilson as he announced the first Armistice Day on November 11, 1919.  

That was the first anniversary of the day the fighting stopped for the First World War.  Armistice Day was created in part to honor all the military personnel who served in the Great War.  This was different than the already celebrated Memorial Day which honors all who have died in our nation's service. After WWII and the Korean War, in 1954 Congress changed the word Armistice to Veteran's so that personnel from all the wars could be recognized for their service.

There are many ways to celebrate Veteran's Day.  First and foremost, thank a veteran for his or her service.  You can attend a local celebration, visit a friend or relative who is a veteran, or even visit a local VA hospital.

Next, we need to teach our children to honor all who serve our country.  It is sometimes hard to distinguish between the wars we may not agree with, and the men and women who sacrifice their family and sometimes lives to fight in them.  Here are some resources to help teach children that veterans are heroes...


November 7, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: Tour the Statue of Liberty

All the election buzz has me thinking about what I love about my country. What better way to burn some of that patriotic energy than to take a tour of the Statue of Liberty?!  The National Park Service website has a wonderful e-tour of the Statue of Liberty.  Take a few moments to gather the family and sit down for a whole new way to check out one of our nation's symbols of freedom.


November 4, 2012

Printable Practice Clock

Early this morning we "fell back" from Daylight Saving Time.  This is a perfect opportunity to start thinking about telling time.  When my daughter was a preschooler, I created a printable practice clock for her.  The hands and numbers are color coded to help little ones differentiate between hours and minutes more easily.  Now I'm making it available for you to download for free.

  1. Print the clock, and the number sheet.  
  2. Cut out the hands and numbers.  I recommend laminating all the pieces so that they last longer, but it's not required.  
  3. Punch a hole in the end of each hand and attach them to the clock face using a paper fastener or brad.  

If you want to have the ability to attach the digital clock numbers to the practice board, I suggest either attaching a small piece of Velcro to the number spaces and the backs of each of the numbers, or printing the numbers on a magnet sheet and posting the practice board on your refrigerator.  What tips and ideas can you offer to others for teaching little ones to tell time?


November 1, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: A Healthier Halloween

Halloween; an evening full of costumes, trick-or-treating, and of course candy!  What do kids want to do as soon as they get home?  Eat the as much of the candy as possible.  My daughter is no different.  However, to my surprise, when we emptied her bag to choose what to eat first, I found some healthier choices.  What was even more surprising was that she actually chose the healthy options first.  I kind of expected to find some popcorn, which we did.  It has become the standard alternative to giving out candy, at least where we usually trick-or-treat.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a pouch of Peter Rabbit Organics puree, and a Ritz Crackers'n Cheez Handi-Snack.  I suppose in this case, one could say it was a treat to find some healthier options in the candy bag.  What healthier choices did you find in your candy bag?  What healthy options did you give out to the goblins and ghouls in your neighborhood?  What ideas do you have to share for next year?