May 03

How to Make Paper Mache Pulp

How to Make Paper Mache Pulp

Use this recipe to make a pulp mixture using newspaper and water. It is great to use for adding fine details to your paper mache projects.  You should be able to mold it almost like clay.

Materials Needed:

  • Newspaper
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Glue

Instructions:

Start off by tearing the newspaper into tiny pieces and putting them in a large bowl. Add just enough warm to hot water to completely cover the newspaper. Let it soak several hours or overnight.

Once your newspaper has soaked for several hours, get your hands into it. Play with it, mix it, and squeeze it through your fingers until it looks similar to oatmeal. Try to get as many lumps out as possible. If necessary, add a bit more water and let it soak a little longer.

Once you have it as smooth as possible, add a few tablespoons of salt to help retard mold. Mix it again with your hands. Once mixed thoroughly, squeeze out any excess water and add a few tablespoons of glue. Now you are ready to use your paper mache pulp!

If you don’t want to wait overnight, you can add your newspaper to boiling water and let it boil until the newspaper falls apart. You have to watch this carefully and possibly add extra water if necessary. You can also try letting your newspaper and hot water mixture sit for a few hours and then put it in a blender or food processor. Don’t forget to add the glue and salt once your mixture is smooth!

Tip : “I used your method to boil newspaper pieces in boiling water in order to make paper mache pulp. The method worked. However, the pot that I used was smeared in newspaper ink on the sides. I tried soap, baking soda, vinegar and finally came upon a solution that quickly removed the ink: vegetable oil. I used the oil and a paper towel & was able to quickly remove the residue in the pot. I thought it would be helpful to include this remedy in your article for those of us who end up with dirty pots.”

Store your pulp in an air tight baggie or bowl in the refrigerator for several days!
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.

Dec 04

Decorative Light Switch Covers

Decorative Light Switch Covers

Have a budding decorator on your hands? One quick and inexpensive way to update your child’s room is to decorate the switch plate, the removable plate that goes over the light switch. There’s nothing to buy and when your child wants a new design, you simply make another! It’s a great way to personalize a room, or coordinate with the theme of the room.

What You Need:

  • A screwdriver
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • A pencil
  • Water-soluble glue
  • Tape
  • Markers, stickers, glitter glue, etc.

What You Do:

  1. Unscrew the switch plate from the wall. Set the screws aside, and make sure to tell your child not to touch the light switch until the switch plate is screwed back on.
  2. Put the switch plate on the paper and trace it with a pencil.
  3. Cut out the shape and leave an extra inch around each side.
  4. Help your child glue the paper to the front of the switch plate, then tuck the extra inches of paper behind the back and tape it down. Let the glue dry.
  5. Now for the fun part! Hand your child the markers, glitter glue, and stickers and let her decorate the switch plate in any way she wants, whether it’s pirates, dinosaurs, or hearts and glitter! When she’s finished, let the glitter glue dry.
  6. Screw the switch plate back in place, and be sure no little fingers are anywhere near the light switch.
  7. Then admire the useful artwork! When your child wants a new design or the picture fades from frequent use, remove the switch plate, peel off the paper, and soak it in warm water until the glue comes off. Then make a new design–the possibilities are endless!
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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.

Oct 30

Tips to get organized for the holidays

Tips to get organized for the holidays

The holidays can be hectic and overwhelming at times. However, if you manage your activities and your time properly, you can have a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season. Follow these tips to get and stay organized.

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Make a holiday task list

Start by creating a master to-do list with everything you need and want to get done over the next several weeks. Use whatever system works for you, whether that’s an on line calendaring program, a voice-activated system on your smart phone or a large wipe-off calendar in your kitchen. Items you might want to include in your holiday task list include:

  • Christmas card list
  • Church events
  • Decorations
  • Gift shopping (budget, wish list, wrapping)
  • Party planning (guest list, menu, etc.)
  • School activities
  • Travel plans

Once you have created a main list of tasks, break each one down into smaller pieces and place deadlines for each piece on your calendar. Give yourself plenty of time in case you run into any snags along the way.

Maintain your focus

Don’t get overwhelmed this holiday season. You don’t have to say yes to every invitation. Maintain your focus and stick to events and activities that are meaningful to you and your family. Enlist the help of your hubby and kids to keep the house as neat and organized as possible. Don’t sweat the small stuff — it really doesn’t matter if you haven’t swept out the pantry or dusted the blinds this week.

Delegate some of the tasks on your to-do list to those who are willing to help. For example, it might be worth it to you to pay the teen who lives up the street $50 to do all your gift wrapping. Also, be sure to take time out for yourself. The holidays aren’t intended to be about a bunch of stress and obligations — you are supposed to enjoy them.

Create a command center

Here are more way to get organized for the holidays.

Organizational expert, fashionista and author of Lists for Life, Rory Tahari offers these helpful tips to get organized this holiday season. Tahari recommends creating a centralized command center in your home to manage all the activities.

  • Choose an area in your home that can be a designated command center. Pick any space that works for you, whether it is a home office or just a small corner in your family kitchen.
  • When it comes to arming your space, less is more. Don’t clutter your area with unnecessary items and instead, opt for fewer items that promote productivity and efficiency.
  • Manage all of your family’s after-school activities, sports games and holiday parties in one centralized calendar. Assign an area for each member of the family so that everyone can take a look back at the calendar for a quick reminder.
  • With all of the coming and going at different times in my family, Tahari and her family often communicate through Post-it® Notes. Leave the kids friendly reminders, create holiday shopping lists and jot down phone messages on Post-it® Notes. They have a set space where they stick their notes. Tahari says the Pebble Collection by Karim is sleek and she loves that it blends in with her home decor.
  • Tahari dislikes loose papers lying around, so she have a filing system for bills, receipts and even the kids’ school work. She assigns Post-it® Pockets for each family member. They stick conveniently to almost any surface and are suitable for any location.
  • Tahari could not live without her scanner. When she’s finished with any paperwork, she scans each document before it can be recycled.

 


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.

Oct 30

10 Reasons You Should Eat Blueberries Every Day

10 Reasons You Should Eat Blueberries Every Day

Life is crazy. Overs scheduled, nerve-racking and harried. And yet we all know that eating healthfully has to be a priority. Fueling your body with the best nature has to offer helps cope with those stresses and feel energetic, nourished and clean on the inside and out.

The good news is that there are shortcuts to getting the job done without cutting corners. Like eating a few handfuls of organic wild blueberries every day. Yep, we mean it! That’s 365 days a year. When you consider the cream of the crop of fresh-food options—accessibility, storage, taste and labor vs. nutritional payoff, absolutely nothing beats these purple little wonders. Here’s why.

1) Wild blueberries may contribute to the fight against your biggest health fears.

It seems like there’s hardly a bodily complaint that blueberries don’t have an answer for. Jam-packed with nutrients, the little globes get their unique purplish hue from anthocyanin, a potent flavonoid antioxidant that may help protect you from serious illness like cardiovascular illness, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.

2) They fight inflammation.

It’s today’s ultimate buzzword—and that’s because chronic inflammation affects so many people in the form of arthritis (and related joint issues), skin problems, metabolic syndrome and possibly even increased risk of the scarier diseases mentioned above. In one recent study, obese rats that ate the human equivalent of two cups of wild blueberries per day for eight weeks experienced a significantly improved inflammatory response.

3) They may help keep you sharp.

Flavonoids act to protect cells all over your body, including neurons, the nerve cells that transmit thoughts, feelings, memories and more. Keeping these crucial players in top shape will keep you on your toes, so to speak. Research shows that a diet containing blueberries or blueberry extract may enhance memory function, balance and coordination.

4) They help you maintain the brightest skin possible.

Organic wild blueberries’ vitamin A and C are necessary for the health of collagen, your skin’s support structure. Eating foods rich in these nutrients may help slow the development of wrinkles, sagging and dark circles. The berries also contain water, which keeps skin hydrated, bouncy and young looking.

5) In terms of antioxidant power, they’re the absolute best.

Maybe you’re thinking, Sure, but all produce contains antioxidants. The truth is that blueberries have more! In study after study, blueberries outrank other powerhouses, like strawberries, cranberries, blackberries and apples, in terms of their total antioxidant activity. And—if you really want to get specific—blueberries that grow in the wild pack at least twice the nutritional value as their cultivated counterparts. In fact, many researchers choose wild blueberries for their studies, since those are known to be so much more potent.

6) They’re tough.

Just because they’re small and cute doesn’t mean they don’t know how to survive. Some of the sweetest, nutritionally rich blueberries out there grow in the Alaskan wild, fighting to thrive in the frigid temperatures. This battle for survival yields a particularly hardy fruit that’s packed with mega doses of antioxidants and medicinal compounds.

7) They’re delicious.

Ultimately, we all know that this is the most important part. Blueberries taste good.

Incorporate them into your cereal, yogurt, smoothie, ice cream, muffin or other, and you’re sure to be upping the delish factor of your meal. One tip: Wild blueberries tend to do better in taste tests than the larger cultivated kind, so buy them when they’re available!

8) They’re all give, no take.

Sure, fruits like pineapple and pomegranate are healthy and tasty. They’re also a pain in the rear. All the peeling and chopping and discarding—you literally have to put muscle into harvesting your breakfast. OK, that labor can be worth it. But compare that to blueberries: All you have to do is rinse and dump into a bowl or gobble them up by the handful. Like candy!

9) You can totally save them for later, they won’t mind.

Blueberries are so tough that preserving them doesn’t hurt their nutritional power. Buy them dried or frozen, or get them fresh and preserve them yourself—they’ll keep for months. Aloha’s Daily Good Greens, a simple dried-powder pack that you can take anywhere, contains plenty of wild blueberry goodness.

10) Your kids will love them.

Monkey see, monkey do—especially when what you’re doing is eating something sweet, delicious and toddler-sized! Think of the wonders all those healthy antioxidants can do for your child’s young, developing body and mind. Snack time: solved.
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.

Sep 28

5 Ways to Add An Extra Hour to Your Day

Ok so I can’t physically add an extra hour to your day.  But before you click off the page, you can actually save time and I’m here to help you get better organized.that sentence.   I’m working on it.   These are 5 ways that have helped me get on top of my game.  5 organization tips, if you will:

5 Ways to Add An Extra Hour to Your Day

  1. PLAN OUT YOUR DAY –
    Have you heard the quote “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?”  It’s pretty harsh.  But taking time to plan out your day will guarantee to have more structure and the ability to accomplish what you need and want to.  This can be done several ways – the night before, first thing in the morning, whatever floats your boat.  Just set aside a dedicated time to make a plan and stick to it.
  2. SET A TIMER –
    This goes for anything – cleaning, working, working out.  If you set a timer to go off within 20-30 minutes depending on the task, you are more likely to stick to it.  Once that timer goes off move to the next item on the list.
  3. DO SOMETHING FUN –
    While everyone has things on their list that they loath (laundry I’m talking to you), if you do something fun the day won’t feel so darn long.  Break it up.  Dance in the kitchen if that’s your thing.  Call your best friend.  Read a book.  Whatever you consider fun- do it, at least once a day.
  4. TURN IT OFF-
    That’s right.  Turn off your phone, computer, tv, etc.  Disconnect.   It doesn’t have to be all day long.  But take some time each day to put it aside and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish and how it seems like you have more time.  Do it.  I double dog dare you.
  5. WRITE IT DOWN –  
    This is where I come in.  I created a simple little to do checklist.  I’ve made some in the past but this one is more detailed.  It has spots for all kinds of things with little boxes to check off.  I also made one without the categories in case you don’t like the ones I use.  Writing down your plan will help most people stick with it (especially visual learners like me!).   Instead of getting distracted 19109120192 times a day, it’ll only be 19109120 and leave you with more time.

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.