Monday, September 26, 2011

Meatless Meatloaf

-          1 small onion, finely chopped
-          1 tbs. oil
-          1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

Sauté onion in oil until lightly browned. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Boil 4-5 minutes. Set aside

-          ½ c. cooked soybeans
-          ¾ c. black beans
-          ½ c. walnuts, ground
-          ½ tsp. salt
-          1 ½ c. onion, chopped
-          ½ c. ketchup
-          t/1 tsp. basil
-          1 tsp. oregano
-          ½ c. oatmeal
-          ½ c. seasoned bread crumbs
-          3 eggs
-          ¼ tsp. pepper
-          2 tbs. parsley, chopped

Preheat oven 350o. Grease 9x5 loaf pan.

Mash soybeans and black beans with fork. Add oatmeal, nuts, and eggs. Mix well. Blend mixture with remaining ingredients. Place mixture in greased loaf pan. Top with sauce. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall Reading Tree Craft

I am a big advocate of teaching children to love reading instead of forcing them to read or “tracking their minutes.”  I try to find fun activities and crafts that will inspire them to want to read.  This is one craft that I’ve used in my classroom with my students and in my home with my son and goddaughters.  It’s a very simple craft that enhances fine motor skills through cutting and inspires children to want to read. 

Brown, red, yellow, and orange construction paper

1.       Glue brown construction paper together.  For my tree I glued three pieces lengthwise and then added one piece on either side for branches.  You can make it as big as you want.
2.       Use a pencil to draw the outline of the tree on the construction paper
3.       Cut out the tree
4.       Tape it to your child’s wall

Every time your child reads a book they will:
1.       Trace the outline of a leaf on a red, yellow, or orange piece of construction paper
2.       Cut out the leaf
3.       Use a ruler to draw a straight line to write on
4.       Write the name of the book on the leaf with pencil
5.       Trace the name of the book with marker (optional)

Every child I’ve ever done this with tries to read as many books as they can so they can fill the tree up!

Click here for more great autumn activities and crafts!

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Easy as 1, 2, 3! Preparing Your Child for a Lifetime of Learning

Children are going into kindergarten and pre-k more and more prepared for school—many of them know the alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers, and have a vocabulary that might even stump some parents.  Ok, that last was an exaggeration, but the level of most kids entering the early years of education is certainly getting higher as the years go on, and many parents are feeling left behind, or even guilty for not starting sooner. 

If you are blessed enough to be a stay-at-home mom (or dad) and have a child that still has a year or so before entering pre-k or kindergarten, now is the perfect time to begin a kind of home school primer, so that your child will be able to keep up when she is enrolled in school. 

Get Involved

As your child's parent, you will know her learning style better than anyone.  You know how she responds, what motivates and distracts her, and what makes lessons stick.  Use this to your advantage.  It will be helpful to evaluate what your child already knows to develop a lesson plan.  Try quizzing her over the alphabet, digits, colors, and shapes, just to feel out what she knows—you may be surprised!  But either way, don't admonish her for not answering correctly; this step is solely to know what she knows.

Draw It, Say It, Sing It, Dance It Out

After you've established what it is you need to focus on, start teaching!  Sometimes I know it can feel silly teaching your child, but remember that, in addition to helping their development, spending this kind of time with her will bring you closer together.  And the more fun you make it, the more she'll want to be with you, learning everything you can teach her. 

If you're working on the alphabet, get out your crayons, markers, pencils, paper, canvas, paint, paintbrushes—anything that you can make letters with—and start with the letter A.  Draw it for her first, and then have her follow along.  Once she does, do it again, and again, and again, and be sure to repeat the letter and the sound it makes as often as you can.  Learning is all about repetition, especially at a young age. 

As Many Ways to Teach As There Are Letters in the Alphabet (And Many, Many More!)

Of course, you don't have to stick with just paper and pen to teach.  There are a million resources on the web, and your teaching method is really only limited by your own imagination.  You have the advantage of being a parent, in addition to being a teacher, so you can take your child anywhere you want as part of the lesson, and do whatever you like, as long as it contributes to their learning. 

When I was teaching my son how to spell his name (and recognize letters in general) I played Wii tennis and bowling with him, along with other short competitive games for the Wii.  Every time he got a high score (and he always did) I let him spell his name using the Wii controller.  He asked me every day to play Wii and spell his name. 

I thought I had discovered a loophole in the education system.  My child actually wanted to learn.

Be creative, and have fun, and you will be surprised to see how well your child responds to learning.  And the best part is, if you start now, you can actually instill a life-long love of learning and discovery in your child that the education system alone never could.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at onlinecollege about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Fall Fashion Trend 2011: Nine West Shoes

Okay, who doesn't LOVE shoes? I don't know what it is but I'm obsessed. There's just something about having a shoe that completes your outfit. Not just that but a shoe can show you're feeling: sensible, flirty, business-like, relaxed, or sporty. My favorite brand is Nine West because they are reasonable priced and so well made.  I always find styles I like when I shop online or in their stores.  Here are a few great new styles for fall:

SHERYL-Mary Jane Pump with 4" heel-$89

ABALENE-High heel loafer with 4 1/2'' heel and 1'' platform-$89

JOB ST-High heel loafer with metallic accent on toe and heel. 3 1/2'' heel.-$85
As seen in People Style Watch magazine!

ARNELL-Platform oxford with 4 1/2'' heel and 1'' platform-$99
As seen in Seventeen magazine

MAVENUE-Round toe ankle bootie 5'' detailed heel with 1/2" platform-$149

MARIOLA-Pull on riding boot. 16'' shaft, 15'' circumference with 2'' heel-$179

SANDERELA-Round toe knee high boot with hardware accent at ankle. Full zip. 18'' shaft,
14 1/2'' circumference with 3 3/4'' heel-$189

BRANTLEY-Knee high boot with buckle accents. Full zip. 18'' shaft
13 1/2'' circumference with 4'' heel and 1/4'' platform-$189

So do you love these or what?  Let me know which style is your favorite!

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