Friday, January 23, 2015

A Gruffalo Play Day



It's been a while since we had a play day theme. Since it's winter, we are looking for a little indoor fun. We like to have play days with a few friends with food and crafts themed around a children's book. This time we did The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. This "modern classic" came out in 1999, but I'm ashamed to say I'd never read it until we watched the (Oscar nominated) animated movie on Netflix recently. There is also a sequel called The Gruffalo's Child. Both are just the cutest stories, perfect for the ages my boys are now. I am absolutely in love with the animated movies. (you can watch a scene  here on YouTube).

The authors also have a fabulous website (visit Gruffalo.com here) with tons of free activities you can print out for your favorite kiddos. We did this play day entirely with things we had on hand, so it was totally free--my favorite. 

We started by watching the movie, most of the kids hadn't seen/read the story. It really held the attention of our 5 and under crowd. Then we feasted on Gruffalo eyes (cheese balls), scrambled snake (as seen below--linguini with pesto alfredo, and swiss cheese eyes with peppercorn pupils--which we told them not to eat!),  a slice of bread (toasted ciabatta) and fruit from the forest. 


For dessert there were acorns (posted previously here) and owl ice cream, of course. : )


Then we had some crafts to choose from. All the printed pages came from Gruffalo.com. We had coloring pages, 



this mask page, which we used to make brown bag puppets. We had purple prickles to glue on and a poisonous wart to add to his nose.



The kids also made their own Gruffalo forest dioramas to go with the finger or stick puppets we made. The day before, the boys and I gathered up a bin of nature stuff from the back yard. Even in the winter you can find pretty cool stuff out there. 



We sorted it and put it out with some sheet and reindeer moss (yes we had this, if you don't, you can find it at Hobby Lobby or even Walmart), tacky glue, and hot glue (for grown ups to help with).



The kids colored and cut out their puppets and then put the theater (or Gruffalo house, as they liked to call it) and puppets together. (We also used our burlap trees (posted here) as a decoration.)


I love how they came out...


...each one was so unique and fun.


I hope you enjoy the Gruffalo story, movie, and web site as much as we do. Stories are even more fun with friends!

To see other book themed parties and play days we've had, check out
Strega Nona
Stone Soup
Eric Carle Books
Dr. Seuss Stories
Curious George
The Lorax (Earth Day)


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Reading Plans

Well, it's the beginning of the year so I'm making my list of books that I want to read this year. Last year I had a goal to read one book a month. I think I came close. Here's some of what I read last year:




So those were the ones I talked about, but I also read: 

I think I read a couple others, but I can't remember them now. Anyway that's nine, so I'm pretty happy with that. I actually listened to Mere Christianity, which I absolutely recommend. I love CS Lewis so much, but sometimes I feel like I need to read sections  of his writing over and over to let it sink in. Listening to it really helped me feel like I was understanding it the first time. Our local library has a lot of books on CD, so we just borrowed it for free. 

When I looked back and my "books I'm going to read in 2014" picture, I realize that four of the books I put on my 2015 shelf are still on the "to read" list. I really am going to read these, plus I've added a few: 
Fly a Little Higher (I'm reading this now--prepare to cry and have a huge dose of perspective in the area of families dealing with childhood cancer. So good though.)
What Alice Forgot - my friend has recommend this author, and I'm trying to add a little fiction to the mix. 


I think I'll do better this year, because I now have a couple of book buddies, so now I can set some timeline of when we want to finish a book so we can talk about it. Yay, mini book club!

I love reading, because it's a hobby that doesn't have to cost you anything. Several of these books are borrowed from friends, and others were from the library. Can I say a few words about how I have discovered the e-library? You have probably been using it forever, but it's new to me and I love it! I don't have a tablet, Kindle, or an iPad--nor do I need one, but I have a smart phone and Kindle has a free app that allows you to read ebooks from the library, Amazon, etc., so you can just use your phone or an iPod with wifi. I've gotten several books for free, as authors, bloggers, publishers sometimes run a 24 hr deal to download their book for free. I will promise to share these deals with you this year, my friends, because free is awesome. But you do have to snatch it up right away, because then it goes back to the regular price. 

The library app I use is called OverDrive. It has been great! Thing One loves reading through chapter book series, but that's a problem when the library has The Absent Author and The Canary Caper, but not The Bald Bandit. With OverDrive, I can download The Bald Bandit and we can get books "A, C, D & E" in paperback, and we don't have to wait for "B" to come in, or make an extra trip to the library, just so he can continue the series. I don't like him to read all the time on my phone, but one book here and there has been great. Plus I love having a book with me all the time. I can read for a few minutes in the school pick up line, and I actually make progress on these books. Because a lot of days there is no time. OverDrive is like a real library in some ways, there are still waiting lists sometimes; I'm currently 39th in line for What Alice Forgot. But when it becomes available I'll have it with me right away. 

Here's to a great year of reading! Any books I should add to my list?


Saturday, January 3, 2015

The New Kitchen Garden

Happy New Year! I hope that you are looking forward to good things. I always believe the best is yet to come. If nothing else, let's resolve to be hopeful. 

I really like getting to experience all four distinct seasons every year in Colorado. In winter, it snows and it feels like winter. We were extra lucky this year an it snowed like crazy all day on Christmas day. So pretty. But in the middle of all that sparkly white, I really miss my garden. So this year at the end of the growing season, before the first bad frost, we decided to set up a little indoor garden to keep us going through the winter. I set up this little cart with just a few pots and it just makes the house feel like the garden is continuing to grow. If you don't have a cart or side table, you could take the back off a cheap book shelf to make an open shelving area for plants. Our kitchen has an east-facing glass door, so it gets a good amount of morning sun. We brought in our stevia and swiss chard pots and started baby lettuce in the window box. Thing Two calls stevia "the candy plant" and is constantly sneaking a leaf to just chew on. It's kind of a miracle there are any leaves left, but the plant is taller than he is, so you can pretty much measure his reach by where the leaves are still growing. Like the trees that surround giraffes at the zoo. : ) 



After we get used to eating something fresh from the garden every day for months, we especially miss the super fresh homegrown produce. It's a small thing, but the swiss chard has done awesome inside. We cut some leaves about once or twice a week and add fresh greens to our omelets or salads. Swiss chard is the perfect thing to bring in because it doesn't need to be pollinated and it's ever-bearing. 


This has been a great set up. Its not so big that it takes over the kitchen, but still feels fresh and gardeny. I might add a couple small pots of herbs like mint and basil. Next year I will bring in a few more things so I won't have to start anything from seeds, and we can just enjoy the constant harvest. I think it's important not to overcrowd the cart though because the open and airy feel is what makes it feel fresh and serene. I hope that you are enjoying the promise of new growth somewhere in your life. 

You are loved!

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