Archive | October, 2011

Pumpkin Photo Fun with Elijah

31 Oct

My favorite photo from our little photo shoot.


This is such a typical Eli pose I love it.

He was so chatty.

Time to play.



So blessed to have such a fun little boy.


So thoughtful love this one.


Sweet boy.


Eli enjoying a porch decoration Mamaw gave us.


Fun for Toddlers: Helping in the Kitchen

21 Oct

Eli and I both have had a great time canning together this fall. In the photo Eli is helping me stir pectin into a pot of juice in order to make jelly.


It is amazing how much children love to learn.  I never cease to be surprised and even encouraged by Elijah’s love of learning.  He loves imitating and exploring the world around him.  I have almost always been an “attached parent” who loves keeping my children close by.  What joy Eli finds in helping me throughout my daily (sometimes monotonous tasks.) 

I am so thankful for Eli’s passion for learning and exploring.  It is our desire that we would constantly be encouraging that desire in his life.  One area which seems to work wonderfully for helping your child to learn and explore is the kitchen. 

What delight Eli finds in learning and helping in the kitchen.

 I wrote about different learning activities for little ones last May but wanted to give an update on the different ways Eli continues to learn. 

  • While Cooking or Preparing Meals: Talk with your child about what you are doing.  Allow them to hold the vegetables or hand them to you.  Lately we have been concentrating on trying to teach Eli his colors while we cook vegetables for dinner.  I have also taught Eli how to wash vegetables.  It is amazing how helpful an almost 2-year-old can be! 🙂   



  • Dishes: I often let Eli help me unload the silverware after they are washed.  Most of our dishes are glass so I admit I usually do not let Eli help me put them away.  It would be a great idea to rearrange your kitchen so that your little one could help put away dishes. 
  • Baking: We recently purchased a Learning Tower which has been wonderful.  They are pricey but worth every penny!  I don’t have to worry about Eli falling so he is able to really help with the cooking.  He gets to help me add ingredients, stir, and sometimes even play with the dough.  I’m sure he will be a great cook one day.  :)
  • Cleaning: Whenever Eli hears the cleaning closet door open he drops whatever he is doing and runs to help.  Imagine!  Such excitement over cleaning.  I admit I often find it encouraging.  It is hard to have a bad attitude about cleaning when he is so eager and excited to help.  Eli can hold a dustpan and empty it quite well.  He can take a cloth and wipe off chairs or Swiffer the kitchen floor area and move chairs around.  Eli is also a pro at picking things up off the floor and putting things away.  A true help and delight to our family as he learns at the same time.     


Washing vegetables is great for a child's motor skill development. It is also great fun for them and teaches them the importance of work.


I wouldn't actually trust my son near the water faucet yet. It's too enticing so instead he washes the vegetables at the counter. I always fill a small container half full of water. Then he washes them and places them in another container or hands them to me. Works great!


The official vegetable washer.



I decided to let Eli "learn" what a raw mushroom tastes like. He prefers them cooked and seasoned with a little pepper.

How to Make Apple Jelly from Apple Peelings

19 Oct

Don't throw away those apple peels and scraps. Use them to create yummy jelly.


If you follow me on Facebook you might have noticed that I have spent a good deal of time canning in the past few weeks.  So far I have mainly been canning different types of jelly and apples.  Lots of apples might I add.  🙂  While canning apples I hated to throw away the peels knowing that it was possible to take the peels and turn them into jelly.  So that’s what I did.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. 

You need a "jelly bag" or pillowcase to place all of the peels in once they are cooked. You can also use a jelly stand with the jelly bag.


How to Make Jelly from Peelings and Scraps:

  • Place all peelings and leftover apple parts in the largest pot you own.  Add water (I think I used about 4 cups?).  Cook about 4 hours. 
  • You will need a jelly bag or pillowcase to place the water and peelings inside.  I didn’t have a jelly bag so I sewed one up while my apple peels were simmering.  I made it by sewing 2 pieces of fabric 14″ X 24″ right sides together.  Turn inside out and add a casing at the top.  Insert ribbon.  Viola.  So simple to make although I would probably make mine about 1/2 as tall next time.  Ideal size would be more like: 14″ X 12″. 

    Hang your jelly bag with a bowl underneath it to catch the juice.

Place your peels and juice into the jelly bag.  Hang it from a hook in your kitchen with a large bowl underneath.  You could also use a jelly stand.  I do not have any hooks or cabinet pulls in my kitchen so I ended up placing the bag in a strainer on top of a large bowl. 


This set up worked great for me since I don’t have any knobs to hang the bag in my kitchen.



 Periodically I squeezed and kneaded the bag in my hands to release more juice. 

  • After a few hours the juice is ready to make into jelly.  You can either make it immediately or store the juice in the refrigerator. 
  • My large pot of peelings yielded 3 quarts of juice. 

Jelly Making:

Batch 1 (Without Pectin): I used the Apple Jelly recipe in the Ball Blue Book (pg. 35): 4 cups apple juice, 3 cups sugar, 2 T. lemon juice.  Stir constantly until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil and cook to a gelling point.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam.  Place in jars and process 10 minutes.  Somehow I ended up cooking my jelly too long.  Instead of yielding 4 half pints I was left with only 2!  Oops.  Guess I made some yummy apple syrup?  🙂 

Batch 2 (With Pectin): For the second batch I decided to take the easy way out and use some Pectin.  You can either purchase Sure Jell or Ball Natural Fruit Pectin.   It was so easy to make the jelly using pectin!  I may never try to make jelly without it again.  Well at least not for a couple of weeks.  I just followed the directions included with the box.   

The finished product.

Menu Plan Oct. 10-16

11 Oct

 Except for the warm weather we have been having it feels as though fall is here.  There are some fun fall decorations in our home and we are looking forward to picking a pumpkin tomorrow.  Everyday it seems that the leaves turn just a little bit more.  In the mean time I have been having a great time putting up apples with Elijah.  So far we have made applesauce, canned apples, apple butter, pear-applesauce, and apple jelly.  We can’t wait to enjoy them this winter.  🙂  This week’s menu will be pretty simple with a few fall favorites thrown in.  I’m looking forward to using our oven a little bit more as the weather turns cooler.        


  • Breakfast: Cream of Wheat, Tea, yogurt  
  • Lunch: Grilled Cheese, sautéed Mushrooms
  • Dinner: Chili at Small Group
  • To Do: Thaw Pork Tenderloin




  • Breakfast: French Toast, Tea
  • Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwich, Veggie Sticks  
  • Dinner: Baby Shower.  Brandon is having leftover soup or eating out.  


  • Breakfast: Yogurt, Granola
  • Lunch: Sandwich or Salad, carrots  
  • Dinner: at a friend’s house: Take Fall Bread 


  • Breakfast: Sausage, Pancakes, Eggs  
  • Lunch: Leftover Soup, Grilled Cheese
  • Dinner: Beef Skillet with cabbage


Fun for Toddlers: Jello Paint

7 Oct

Elijah thinks jello painting is one of the coolest things ever. If only he knew how simple it was.


I try to make it my goal to do a craft project with Eli about every other day.  Of course it depends on our week.  Some weeks we might do 6 while other weeks we only do 1.  This might be something as simple as coloring a piece of paper or it might involve a little bit more mess.  In my experience the messy ones are usually a bit more fun.  One craft that seems to always be a hit and is only slightly messy is painting with jello.  It also smells great.  So good in fact your kid might try to eat it.  It’s really okay if they do but I try to discourage it.  I don’t want Eli getting use to eating the things he paints with.  🙂 

Sample artwork using Jello Paint.


How to Make Jello Paint:

  • Mix 1/2 Jello Packet in a small bowl.  (I do not recommend using Sugar Free jello as it doesn’t seem to work quite as well as regular jello.) 
  • Add a few drops of water and stir. 
  • Continue adding water until desired consistency. 
  • Allow child to paint with jello paint using fingers, Q tips, paintbrushes, straws, or anything else you can think of.  🙂 
  • Use different types of material for your child to paint on.  I save scrap paper, cardboard, scraps of fabric, old folders, paper towel tubes, etc.  Our personal favorite is to paint on Photo Paper.  It is nice and glossy which adds an interesting look to Jello Painting. 

    What a joy to watch Eli create.


Sew a Toddler Apron

1 Oct

Sew up a sweet little apron for your favorite kitchen helper.

After trying unsuccessfully to tie one of my half aprons onto Eli and having it fall off repeatedly I finally made him his very own apron.  It was so simple and took hardly any time at all to make.  Unfortunately a size 18-24 months apron does not exist so I had to improvise.  🙂  I simply measured from above Eli’s chest down past his ankles where I wanted the apron to hit.  This was 16″ for Eli.  Add 1″ for seam allowances.  Then I measured around him and found that I wanted the front to measure about 13″ wide. 

I also added a pocket which to the bottom of the apron. I cut a piece of fabric 9" X 5". Finish all of the edges. Turn the top under 1" and sew. Sew the pocket onto the front of the apron stitching close to the edge.

I drafted a pattern using one of his shirts as a guide to make the arm holes.  I simply taped 2 8.5 X 11 pieces of paper together long ways to make the pattern which was placed along the fold of the fabric.   

To make the neck tie I cut a piece of fabric 2″ X 18″ (this ended up being about an inch or two too long for Eli at 21 months but I just tacked it so that he can grow into the apron).  Then I placed the fabric right sides together to make a long tube and sewed along 3 sides.  Turn inside out and press.   Attach at the top of the apron 1/2 inch from the side (so that you can later fold over the fabric to finish the edge).  To make waist ties cut 2 pieces of fabric 2″ X 22″.  Sew the same way as the neck ties.  Finish all of the seams.  Add pocket if desired and voila all finished! Put on your little one and watch them grin. 

To say Eli loves his apron might be an understatement.

Side view

Already on his way to being a great cook one day.

Such a fun project. My favorite one last week. Definitely trumps cleaning out the closets.

This would make an excellent Christmas present if you want to get a jump-start on your gift list.  It is also fairly economical since the entire project takes only 2/3 of a yard of fabric.  I used a thicker weight fabric which I thought would be a little more durable for being washed often.  If the idea of creating a pattern terrifies you check out my post about sewing children’s aprons last year.