Nov 15

Chocolate-Covered Apples

Chocolate-Covered Apples

If you love the idea of handing out holiday tins of homemade cookies but your baking skills are non-existent, gourmet caramel chocolate-covered apples are the perfect solution. They’re so easy to make that your child will barely need help, but the results are delicious and look beautiful.

What You Need:

  • Apples
  • Lollipop sticks (available at crafts stores)
  • Bag of caramels (or substitute peanut butter and skip Step 2)
  • Chocolate chips
  • White chocolate
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Tin foil
  • Cooking spray
  • Your choice of toppings: crushed nuts, dried coconut, colored holiday sprinkles
  • Clear baker’s wrap and ribbons

What You Do:

  1. Line the baking sheet with tin foil and spray lightly with oil.
  2. Unwrap the caramels and melt according to the directions on the bag.
  3. Dip the entire apple in the caramel, spreading with a knife if it’s too thick to coat evenly. Set aside on baking sheet to cool and harden.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 15 seconds until thoroughly melted.
  5. Dip the bottom 3/4 of the apple in the chocolate and set back on baking sheet.
  6. Let cool, then drizzle with melted white chocolate.
  7. While chocolate is still soft, dip bottom of apple in your choice of toppings.
  8. Let cool thoroughly, then wrap and give!

 

chocolate-covered-apples-slide

Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Nov 13

Apple Cider Recipe

Apple Cider Recipe

This apple cider recipe makes a perfect drink for a cold winter day. Freshly brewed apple cider is a perennial favorite for the winter holidays, and it’s one beverage that will please both kids and adults. Preparing this concoction is a process your child will genuinely enjoy and learn from as well! As he helps you prepare this delectable winter treat, he will learn crucial cooking skills, such as measuring, knife safety, and how to follow recipe directions.

The best cider is made by brewing it all day in a crock pot, but if you’re short on time or you don’t own a slow cooker, you can use a pot and simmer it on the stove, on low, for a few hours. Make our apple cider recipe with your child this holiday season.

What You Need:

  • 1 gallon apple juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger
  • 3 orange slices
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp powdered nutmeg

What You Do:

  1. Have you child use a spoon to peel the ginger before you chop it, using the edge of the spoon to cut into the peel. This method takes less skin off than using a regular potato peeler.
  2. Chop or slice the ginger into small pieces. The longer you plan to cook the cider, the larger the slices can be because they will boil down.
  3. Ask your child the orange and lemon so you can slice it up. You will want to float the slices in the cider as it cooks, and you can eat the rest of the fresh fruit or save it for other recipes.
  4. Have you child pour the juice into the pot or slow cooker. Add the sliced ginger, orange, and lemon.
  5. Invite your child to measure out the remaining ingredients and add the cinnamon stick, cloves, and nutmeg. Help him stir the concoction, cover the pot, and set the heat on low.
  6. If you’re using a slow cooker, you can simply leave the apple cider to brew overnight for approximately eight hours. If you want the cider to be done faster, set the cooker on high and cook for only four hours. On the stove, you will have to monitor the cider so that it’s simmering on low but does not boil, and you can leave it for between two to four hours.
  7. When it’s done, ask your child to choose to either strain the extra ingredients or leave them in the pot as a garnish. Ladle the cider into warmed mugs, and serve it up to guests piping hot!

For variations on the recipe, add any of the following:

  • Cardamom for a richer, spicier taste
  • Black pepper for a surprising kick
  • Maple syrup or honey for extra sweetness

make-fresh-apple-cider-bigthumb

Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Nov 04

Get Cozy This Fall With These 5 Warm Drinks

Get Cozy This Fall With These 5 Warm Drinks

Whether you want to soothe a sore throat, boost your energy or just cozy up with a hot beverage during these increasingly crisp, cool nights, these simple recipes are the perfect solution.

1. Steeped Mint-Fennel Tea

Recipe: Pour one cup of boiling water over ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, 2 teaspoons of mint leaf and 2-3 thin slices of ginger. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes.

Why it’s good for you: This aromatic blend will naturally stimulate your senses, giving you a boost of energy. Bonus: The strong scent of mint helps with nausea and stomachaches.

Steeped Mint-Fennel Tea

 

2. Warm Cardamom, Vanilla & Honey Milk

Recipe: Combine 1 cup of milk (or nut milk) and ½ teaspoon of brown cardamom seeds in a small saucepan until warm. Remove the pan from heat and add 3 teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir and let steep for 5 minutes.

Why it’s good for you: Cardamom is a peppery spice known for anti-inflammatory properties. This spice has also been known to alleviate feelings of anxiety — perfect nourishment for a cold, blustery day.

Warm Cardamom, Vanilla & Honey Milk

3. Ginger-Honey Cayenne Tea

Recipe: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2-3 thin slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 lemon wedge. Add ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and stir.

Why it’s good for you: The honey and ginger mixture will help relieve sore throat symptoms, while the dash of cayenne pepper will be just what you need to clear your sinuses.

Giner-Honey Cayenne Tea

4. Warm Pineapple Ginger Punch

Recipe: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup pineapple juice, 3 thick slices of ginger, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 whole cloves and a dash of pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Why it’s good for you: Pineapple is an excellent source of bromelain, an enzyme that alleviates indigestion and can even help clear your sinuses.

 

 

Warm Pineapple Ginger Punch

And Finally…

5. Warm Water with Lemon

Recipe: Combine juice of half a lemon with 1 cup of warm water.

Why it’s good for you: Don’t be fooled by this recipe’s simplicity. Drinking lemon with warm water can give you a boost of vitamin C and potassium, help with digestion and act as a natural diuretic.

Warm Water with Lemon

 

 

Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Nov 04

Games – On line or Broad Games

Games – On line or Broad Games

On line games

I love playing Video Games, and not just candy crush and playing Guild Wars 2.  But on line games have been going to use keyboards more than mouse. I don’t use the keyboard much. Heroes of Might and Magic V, Rune Scape.

 

German-style board game

I got into German style board games.I like them a lot more than on line games.

Here is why I like them.

A German-style board game, also referred to as a German game, Euro game or Euro-style game, is any of a class of tabletop games that generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, indirect player interaction, and abstract physical components.[1] Such games emphasize strategy, downplay luck and conflict, lean towards economic rather than military themes, and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends. German-style games are sometimes contrasted with American-style games, which generally involve more luck, conflict, and drama.[2]

German-style games are usually less abstract than chess, but more abstract than wargames. Likewise, they generally require more thought and planning than party games, such as Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit, but less than classic strategy games, such as chess and Go.

German-style games tend to have a theme (role-play element or a background story)—more like Monopoly or Clue, rather than poker or Tic Tac Toe.[4] Game mechanics are not restricted by the theme, however—unlike a simulation game, the theme of a German game is often merely mnemonic. It is somewhat common for a game to be designed with one theme and published with another, or for the same game to be given a significantly different theme for a later republication, or for two games on wildly different themes to have very similar mechanics. Combat themes are uncommon, and player conflict is often indirect (for example, competing for a scarce resource).

Example themes are:

  • Carcassonne – build a medieval landscape complete with walled cities, monasteries, roads, and fields.
  • Puerto Rico – develop a plantation on the island of Puerto Rico, set in the 18th century.
  • Imperial – as an international investor, influence the politics of pre-World War I European empires.
  • Bruxelles 1893 – take the role of an Art Nouveau architect during the late 19th century and try to become the most famous architect in Belgium.[5]

While many titles (especially the strategically heavier ones) are enthusiastically played by gamers as a hobby, German-style games are, for the most part, well suited to social play. In keeping with this social function, various characteristics of the games tend to support that aspect well, and these have become quite common across the genre. For example, generally German-style games do not have a fixed number of players like chess or bridge; though there is a sizable body of German-style games that are designed for exactly two players, most games can accommodate anywhere from two to six players (with varying degrees of suitability). Six-player games are somewhat rare, or require expansions, as with The Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne. Usually each player plays for him- or herself, rather than in a partnership or team.

In keeping with their social orientation, numbers are usually low in magnitude, often under ten, and any arithmetic in the game is typically trivial.

Playing time varies from a half hour to a few hours, with one to two hours being typical. In contrast to games such as Risk or Monopoly, in which a close game can extend indefinitely, German-style games usually have a mechanism to stop the game within its stated playing time. Common mechanisms include a pre-determined winning score, a set number of game turns, or depletion of limited game resources. For example, Ra and Carcassonne have limited tiles to exhaust.

Designers of German-style board games include:

 



Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Nov 04

Make Up – Wear or not to wear

Make Up – Wear or not to wear

A few weeks ago, I decided to stop wearing makeup for awhile. If I were being partially honest I would say this decision was based on the hot weather and humidity, which caused any makeup I applied to promptly slide off my face in an unsightly Maybelline mudslide.

I thought my makeup hiatus would last a few days, but I ended up enjoying the barefaced lifestyle so much that I didn’t open my makeup bag for two full weeks. This might not seem like a long time, but I’ve worn makeup almost every day for many, many years. A makeup-free vacation, weekend, or random weekday wasn’t uncommon for me, but to give it up for 14 days in a row for no particular reason was definitely a major adjustment. I learned some things about makeup, and about myself, in the process…

“Getting ready” time is important, even if it doesn’t involve makeup. When I took makeup out of my “getting ready” equation, I discovered I could be out the door in about 10 minutes (get dressed, de-frizz hair, locate keys — Boom! Done!). But one thing I realized during my makeup hiatus was that even though it was nice to streamline my routine, I actually missed the chunk of time I spent in front of the mirror. Leisurely applying my powder and mascara allowed me ample time to wake up, have a few solo dance parties, and mentally steel myself for the day. Now I know that even if I’m not wearing makeup, I still prefer to give myself a generous chunk of morning prep time.

Skincare is more important than makeup. Before my makeup hiatus, I put minimal energy into taking care of my skin and maximum energy into covering up any skin issues that arose from my negligence. Going without makeup made me want to switch up my priorities. The more TLC I give to my skin, the less makeup I want/need to wear.

 Removing eye makeup is a pain in the ass. When I wore makeup daily, spending a few minutes every night removing said makeup was just a given. No matter how tired I was, I knew I’d have to prop myself up in front of a mirror and wipe away my eyeliner and mascara — and I couldn’t rush it too much either, because hello, eyelashes are fragile. You know what’s awesome? Just being able to splash your face with water and go to bed. I could really get used to that. In fact, I kind of did get used to it during my makeup hiatus, and now taking it off seems even more annoying/time-consuming than usual.

I love the feeling of the sun on my bare face. This wasn’t a huge epiphany, because I don’t wear makeup on beachy vacations, but it was so nice to feel the sun on my face while doing everyday things like running errands or taking walks through my neighborhood. (Oh, and just in case my dermatologist is reading this, of course I was still wearing sunscreen!)

There are two very different reasons I wear makeup. One reason is rooted in self-expression. I might have the urge to play with a fun eye shadow color or wake up feeling kind of vampy and want deep red lips to match my mood. The second reason is rooted in insecurity and the belief that I don’t look good enough without makeup. The two weeks I spent not wearing any makeup really highlighted the difference between these two motivators for me. There were days that I felt like wearing makeup because I wanted to define my eyes for a night out or just really missed my hot pink lip gloss, and there were other days when I wanted to wear makeup . Ideally, I’d like my daily makeup habits to be motivated by creativity and expression rather than fear and self-doubt. It’s a challenge, but I think I’m on the right track.

Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Nov 04

Planning Family Time

Planning Family Time

Busy families everywhere are settling into the school year. September is a time for everyone in the family adjusting to new and often hectic schedules, routines and activities. Here are some ideas to help you and your family prepare for smooth running days ahead.

With everyone having different schedules, and needs, it’s important to keep track of everything so that things don’t get lost in the cracks. Preparation and planning again are crucial to a smooth running ship. A few minutes here will save you many headaches.

The Family Calendar and Bulletin Board

For those of you who like to have the written calendar in front of you or on the go, there are number of styles to choose from that you can drop in your purse or keep on your desk. For those of us drawn to on line tools, setting up an on line family calendar using sites like Google Calendar may be the way to go. On line calendars like Google Calendar can be accessed from home, work and even phone, and can be shared with and updated by all family members, as well. Time is precious… so is your family and your job. Use available tools to plan your day and your week accordingly, and find time to spare, just for you.

Essential in keeping everyone’s schedule in one place to avoid those double bookings or even worse, forgetting/missing an important event. A family calendar and bulletin board center allows you to keep track of reminders for yourself, due dates, parents’ night, etc. Using a different color pen for each person’s obligations is a good way to catch your eye and help the younger ones to know their schedule. Keeping a family calendar up-to-date will not only help you stay on top of things.

Make Family Time a Priority by Scheduling it into the Family Calendar

Give it the attention it deserves! When you make a doctor’s appointment, it always gets written on the calendar. Well, your family is just as important, and sometimes you may simply need to schedule family time into your week and mark it on the family calendar to make sure it happens. Time passes quickly and if you don’t plan time to share with your family, it will continue to speed by and you will have lost opportunities to build and strengthen your family bond.

Some Tips:

Your children need to know you value them and that your time with them is a top priority for you . You make kids feel valued by spending regular time with them.Of course, with busy and sometimes conflicting schedules of family members, time together is not always easy to come by. One way to ensure that you and your children spend time together is to block out time on your daily and weekly calendars to be with them, just as you would schedule a meeting with an important client. Some families set aside a regular time each week for family get-togethers. For example, keep Sunday afternoons free for family outings, day trips, hiking, going to movies, a dinner out and the like. It will help you stay bonded together.

You might want to designate one evening a week as family night. Explain to your children that this is a time for family activities and conversation. Plan to feature something interesting each week. It might be miniature golf or a baseball game; other times it might be an evening at home with games and popcorn.

Carefully evaluate your family activities. Simply wandering around a shopping mall as a form of family entertainment on weekends can leave everyone feeling unsatisfied and put the emphasis on wrong values. Instead of the mall, substitute active, family-centered activities such as a trip to a museum, a walk in the woods or a visit to a park or arboretum.

Family time can also mean getting work done together. Rather than dividing up household chores, let everyone help cook dinner, clean up the kitchen or do yard work, laundry and maintenance projects around the house. Not only will your children get to spend time with you, but they will learn to do new things and observe their parents working.

 

Remember to also Make Time for Yourself

With all you’re doing, you need a break too! Make sure to set aside time on the calendar for YOU. What hobbies or things do you like to do? What gives you a little extra boost? Perhaps it’s a walk on the beach, a scrap-booking class, or an undisturbed soak in the tub. Whatever you do, just do it! Remember the age-old saying – “If mama ain’t happy — nobody is.”

Take a look at your schedule. Make sure that you pencil in time for “quality of life” things with your family, as well as for yourself. A few minutes of preparation will go a long way in terms of maintaining connections and fun along with all the other tasks of life. So, plan them out, put them on the family calendar and JUST DO IT!



Kate from learnandgrowbooks.com

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.