Saturday, November 10, 2012

Warm, Yummy Deliciousness for 60 Tiny Calories

One of my favorite things about cold weather is hot chocolate- YUM! Nothing like cuddling on the couch with a nice warm cup of cocoa. Unfortunately, that hot chocolate isn’t very supportive of my efforts to lose the baby around 150 calories a cup, it doesn’t always fit into my nutritional budget.

Fortunately, I have found a delicious alternative that is too good not to share- it’s the low-cal version of this Hot Vanilla recipe. The original recipe called for regular milk and sugar. By simply substituting almond milk and no-calorie sweetener, I was able to make this for just 60 calories (that includes the whipped cream)! SWEET!

Here’s the recipe:

60 Calorie Hot Vanilla

1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon no calorie sweetener
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon to taste
2 tablespoons light whipped cream

Heat almond milk, then stir in vanilla, sweetener, and cinnamon. Add whipped cream on top and enjoy!

As my 6-year-old would say, easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Do you have any favorite low-calorie alternatives to your favorite treats? Leave a comment and share! I need all the help I can get! ;-)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Artsy Collages

Lately I’ve felt more like being artistic than crafty. I don’t know if it’s a desire to express myself or if I just want to play around- maybe both- but I’ve had some fun experimenting with collage and mixed media.

I started with the large envelope my Shutterfly order came in. Weird, yeah, but it was destined for the trash and it was a nice thick poster board material that looked like it could handle an onslaught of mod podge. 

Once I had my base, I started looking through old magazines. My goal for this piece was to do something fall-ish, maybe Thanksgiving-y. So I found lots of reds, greens, golds, and browns and started throwing them on there.

I was using home decorating magazines, so the images I got were full of texture- blankets, pillows, flooring, rugs, and flowers.

I mod podged them together, then once it dried I used a little cream colored acrylic paint and dry-brushed some character onto it. Then I used my Quickutz and punched “give thanks” out of old sheet music. Once it dried I outlined the letters with a fine tip Sharpie.

Next was this little gem.

This one was basically the same process (same Shutterfly envelope, same home decorating magazines) only I went with a girly shabby chic feel, inspired by one of the textures I hadn’t ended up using for my “give thanks” collage.

I went over everything with the same cream acrylic paint and then used some brown ink on the edges once it dried. Then I added a few touches of lace, some twine, a velvet flower and a button.

One of my favorite things about this one is that one of the images I used was a window looking out on a flowering tree, and you can just barely still see it in the background. It gives a soft, dreamy feel to it.

So that was my artsiness from yesterday. How about you- feeling artsy lately?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Home-based Preschool: G is for GHOST!

Several friends and I happen to have 3-year-olds at home, so we decided as a group to do a home-based preschool with them. We do 2 days a week, 9:30-12:30, and we alternate teaching in our homes. It’s great because there are 6 kids and 5 moms (one has twins) so I only have to teach once every 6 weeks. Honestly, I find the lesson preparation and teaching really fun, but it’s also a LOT of work, so I’m glad I don’t have to do it every week!

We’ve decided to focus on one letter each week. Our main goal is for the kids to have fun, but we also want them to learn something and to get used to being in a structured, school-type setting. We start the day with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, a review of the calendar, singing the Days of the Week song, and a review of our letters.

Today for our letter review I used these fun cards I purchased a long time ago in Colonial Williamsburg. I had the kids try to make the letters with their bodies like the children on the cards. We laughed quite a bit trying to contort ourselves into the right shapes!

Then, because I had chosen “G is for Ghosts” as this week’s theme (Halloween and everything) we sang a song about 5 Little Ghosts and I used the flannel board to take the ghosts away one at a time as we sang.

Next we moved to a “web” I had created on the floor using masking tape for our Ghost Gathering Game. I put paper ghosts at various places on the web and the children had to take turns “walking the web” and collecting the ghosts.

They had to be careful not to step off the lines!

Once they had collected the ghosts, they ended at the scarecrow who had a box. They put the ghosts into the box and....

...then they took out the bell and rang it! Then we all clapped for them.

After our ghost gathering we headed to the kitchen for our ghostly snack- mozzarella cheese sticks and pretzel rods dipped in white chocolate with mini chocolate chip eyes.

When the kids finished their snacks I had them start on their craft- a ghost wind sock. I had already cut out all the pieces; they just had to glue it together. It was a windy day today, so when they took them out to their cars when it was time to go home, there were lots of happy squeals when they saw their ghosts wiggling in the wind!

After that we had some free play time so I could feed the baby, then we gathered together again on our blanket to read a book called, “Georgie the Ghost” about a ghost whose house became unfit for haunting for awhile. Poor Georgie!

Then we went into the kitchen for a lively game of Ghost Bowling (those are rolls of toilet paper with eyes attached to them). Each child got a turn to stand behind the line and roll the ball to see how many ghosts they could knock down.

Once our ghost bowling was done we went back to the blanket for another story- this one called “The Ghosts’ Dinner”. In the story, a ghost hosts a dinner party and the food makes the ghosts change color! The kids thought that was very silly.

When the story was done, I let the kids go outside for some free play while I prepared our lunch: PB&J ghosts (cut out using a tulip-shaped cookie cutter upside down!) with raisin eyes, ghostly bananas on a stick with mini chocolate chip eyes, and Go-Gurt (to keep with our “G” theme).

After lunch I had a G is for Ghost coloring sheet for the kids who wanted to do it then (I gave them the option of doing it here or taking it home) and I encouraged them to think about what they’d serve their ghost for dinner and color the ghost that color. Little Boo decided her ghost had eaten strawberries.

I think all the kids had a good time and I always have so much fun planning it! Doing a home-based preschool with friends is a really great way to help your kids develop social skills and prepare them for school. It’s also great for the moms to get a break a couple times a week, but to also get the opportunity to teach. It doesn’t need to cost money- with a little creativity (Pinterest, people!) you can keep it thrifty but fun.

My next letter is M- I’m thinking mail and music...any thoughts? :-)

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