Sunday, July 30, 2006

Simple Pleasures

Jump in the Pool

It’s July and the temperature may reach 105 degrees in some parts of the United States. Today, Avoid the heat and stay cool - take a refreshing swim.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cooking With Kids


Blueberry Muffin Cones

This may seem like a funny combination but kids love this treat - especially when the top of each cone is crowned with dollops of sweet icing and yummy sprinkles.

What You’ll Need:

1 Box Blueberry Muffin Mix
1- Carton of Ice cream cones
1- Can Vanilla Icing
1- Jar Decorator Sprinkles
Cupcake Liners
Muffin Tin


1. Prepare muffin mix according to package directions. Divide batter into lined muffin tins. Bake according to directions -Let cool.

2. Remove liners from muffins. Tuck a muffin into each ice cream cone.

3. Ice cones with frosting and decorate with sprinkles.

Makes approximately twelve

With adult supervision your kids will make this easy to make, not too sweet, treat often.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Strategies to Use With Students Who Find Reading Textbooks Too Difficult


If you have students or children who find reading textbooks too difficult, then you need to adapt instruction.

Here are some tips for both parents and teachers:

Supplement The Textbook

- Audio-tape the textbook chapter

- Read the textbook chapter aloud

- Work with your child or students individually or is small groups

Simplify the Textbook

- Write an abridged version of the textbook

- Give students an outline of chapters which highlights the key points they should grasp

- Supplement the textbook with other material, i.e. videos, computer applications

Set Purposes for Reading

- Activate students' prior knowlege before reading the textbook

- Introduce key vocabulary terms before reading

- Write a study guide to help students identify key concepts and terms they will find as they're reading their textbooks

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Simple Pleasures


It's mid July and delicious watermelons are appearing at roadside stands and in grocery stores. Dine on watermelon today and enjoy the fruits summer brings.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. -Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Handy Little Black Book


Several months ago I took a writing course. One of the first things the instructor handed to each person in the class was a little black book. It was actually a miniature version of those black-speckled composition notebooks you buy at places like Wal-mart.

The instructor announced, “You need to start thinking like a writer, so that means you need to always be brainstorming about writing ideas. Here’s a little black book to use because you never know when a writing idea will hit you.”

Well, good student that I am, I followed her instructions and began to use that little black book to jot down everything that came to mind. And to this day, I keep that little black book with me at all times. It’s small enough to fit into my tiniest purse or even the pocket of my jeans or a jacket. That’s why it’s so handy when:

- I’m driving down the road and an introductory sentence or phrase for an article comes to mind.

- I’m waiting at the dentist’s office and an idea for a book or an article occurs to me.

- I see a catchy phrase I think I may be able to use in my writing some day.

- I make a new writing contact and need to write their name or email address down.

- I’m at a party and I find myself bored and decide to work on my marketing plan for the following week.

Now that I think like a writer, I always keep my little black book handy, even if it is a little dog eared by now.

Are you thinking like a writer, yet?

If so, then you need a handy little black book, too.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Here are some reflections of motherhood I think both Mom and Dad can appreciate.


4 Years of Age...My Mommy can do anything!

8 Years of Age…My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!

12 Years of Age…My mother doesn’t really know quite everything.

14 Years of Age…Naturally, Mother doesn’t know that either.

16 Years of Age…Mother? She’s hopelessly old-fashioned

18 Years of Age… That Old Woman? She’s way out of date!

25 Years of Age…Well she might know a little bit about it.

35 Years of Age…Before we decide, let’s get Mom’s opinion.

45 Years of Age…Wonder what Mom would have thought about it.

65 Years of Age… Wish I could talk it over with Mom----

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Making Homemade Potpourri

Part Two of a Two-Part Article

-Select a Fixative

A fixative “fixes” or holds and absorbs the scents of all the other ingredients. There are several fixatives to choose from. The easiest to use and obtain are orris root powder and gum benzoin.

-Essential Oil

Essential oils are found in perfumed flowers, leaves, roots, and even seeds. Perfume emitted from plant oils may be a citric, floral or a spicy scent. Bottles of essential oils can be found at most craft stores or purchased from specialty stores or catalogues that offer potpourri supplies. Essential oils most popularly used are: rose, lavender, orange blossom, ilang-ilang, jasmine, vanilla and patchouli. It’s a matter of personal choice when selecting an essential oil for your potpourri.

-Assemble Ingredients

Measurements do not have to be exact when mixing all the components in potpourri. Although, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, such as, rose scented potpourri, refer to books on this topic -they will provide more exact measurements. So, for every quart of dried flowers, use about one teaspoon of fixative, and about six drops of essential oil. Adjust both of these according to the quantity of flowers you have available, then just follow these steps.

1. In a small bowl place spices (if they’re ground up), and your fixative. Add six drops of essential oil then thoroughly mix using your fingers.

2. In a separate bowl (larger) mix your flowers, herbs and whole spices (these are your dry ingredients).

3. Pour spices, fixative and essential oils into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Mix well to ensure that the oil, fixative and spices are evenly distributed.

4. Pour this mixture into an airtight container. Place in a dark place for about six weeks to cure. Shake the container daily, for the first two weeks. This helps distribute the scent, which needs to be absorbed, in all the components of the potpourri mixture.


By the sixth week the potpourri should be ready to display. The most common way to display potpourri is in a pretty bowl. Although another great way to enjoy the fragrance of potpourri is to wrap a vintage hanker-chief around a cupful. These pretty parcels can be placed in drawers to give them a refreshing scent or given as gifts.

-Learning More

There are many books available on making potpourri. Stop by a book store, drop in your local library or google the word “potpourri” to find information and resources. Also, make sure you check out the San Francisco Herb Company’s website. They carry hundreds of herbs, essential oils and a variety of supplies for making potpourri.

You probably never thought you could make something so fragrant and appealing from your very own back yard. The next time you’re pruning your garden save all your deadheads and make sure you harvest a few flowers, now and then, for homemade potpourri you can make with your kids.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Making Homemade Potpourri, from Your Very Own Back Yard, with Your Kids

Part One of a Two-Part Article

If you’re like me I’m always anxious in the spring to get colorful annuals planted in pots and clear off my perennial and herb beds for the spring and summer season. And, now that it’s mid-summer and many flowers and herbs are at the peak of their blooming period, it’s a perfect time for gathering blossoms for making homemade potpourri.


With a bowl of homegrown flowers and herbs and a few ingredients, found at most craft stores, you’ll find creating a pretty, fragrant potpourri is both easy and fun to make with your kids. Here’s how to go about making homemade potpourri from five basic ingredients – flowers, herbs, spices, fixatives and essential oils:

-Select Flowers

Just about any flower you grow can be used in potpourri. However, some of the best flowers to include, because they dry well, maintain their shapes, and ones most likely grown in your gardens are: marigolds, roses, zinnias, pansies, daisies, dianthus and sunflowers. These flowers retain their color longer and hold up with time.

-Choose Herbs

Of course lavender is an obvious choice; still other wonderful herbs to include in your mixture are sage, mint, and basil leaves, as well as, thyme and rosemary. And, since many herbs bloom, especially mints, it’s a nice touch to include their flowers.

- Dry Blossoms

Gather flowers and herbs when they are dry, preferably mid-morning. In an airy place spread flowers out on sheets of newspaper. Hang bunches of herbs upside down (from their stems) to dry. Within a week most of them should be dry. If not completing dry they will mold.

-Include Spices

Adding spices to potpourri gives it a warm, sweet smell. Spices most commonly used are star anise, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. They can be added in whole pieces or crushed.

Log on tomorrow for part two of this article. I’ll explain how to assemble your mixture and give you resources for learning more about potpourri and buying ingredients.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Exercise For a Healthier Mind


We all know exercise is good for our bodies. However, most people don’t know exercise is good for their state of minds as well.

Research consistently reveals how exercise can make us feel happier, thereby relieving stress and alleviating minor depression.

Experts explain being active causes our bodies to release chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals act as natural antidepressants. They ease anxiety and can lift our spirits.

So, the next time you feel anxious or sad take a brisk walk, hop on a bike or take a swim. You have nothing to lose but the blues.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fourth of July Trivia


Memories of picnics, family reunions and barbeques may be what you associate the fourth of July with. Whatever your plans are for this one here’s a bit of trivia, on American History, you can share with friends or Family.

-The Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress on July 4th, although the resolution that led to the writing of the Declaration was actually approved two days earlier.

-While July 4th is celebrated as America's official split from Britain's rule and the beginning of the American Revolution, the actual series of events show that the process took far longer than a single day. All of this had occurred with some of the delegates to the Congress not even present. New York, for example, didn't vote on the resolution until July 9th.

-The American National Anthem, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, was written by Francis Scott-Key in 1814. The song was an immediate hit with American revolutionaries. It was not until 1931 that the Star-Spangled Banner officially became the American National Anthem.

Have a fun and SAFE Fourth of July

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fourth of July Dessert


If you signed up to bring dessert to this year’s Fourth of July pot luck dinner - bring fruit. With such a variety of fruits available this time of year a cool assortment is a natural contribution to any summer party. Here are a few ways to present fresh fruit.

Hollow out a large watermelon using a melon scoop. Then place watermelon balls, and an assortment of fruits such as grapes, melon balls, and strawberries inside.

On a large tray arrange slices of cantaloupe, wedges of watermelon, whole strawberries, and bunches of grapes.

In a bowl, poor a light fruit glaze over a mixture of sliced bananas, strawberries, chunks of cantaloupe and grapes. Go into the teacherspetplace archives (Friday May 12) and find a recipe for fruit glaze.

With so many fruit choices available it’s a healthy substitute for dessert.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Simple Pleasures


This Fourth of July weekend is especially long and perfect for a family reunion. Many families are renewing family ties while enjoying picnics, hayrides and barbeques.