27 October, 2010

Healthy Halloween Treats

Healthy and Halloween don't exactly go together, but it is possible. It's all about the presentation.  For example, the mashed potato ghost in the photo above is both spooky and nutritious. It is simply mashed potatoes, swirled onto the plate and embellished with a green onion for a mouth and two black beans for eyes.
The Giant Spider snack in the photo above is so simple to put together, the kids can do it themselves. All you need is a bag of pretzel rods, baby carrots, and some raisins. Place two baby carrots in the center of a plate. Snap four rods in half and fashion them into spindly legs. Set two raisins atop the head for eyeballs.

Another healthy Halloween snack idea is "Slimy Smoothies". In a blender, blend together slices of honeydew melon, kiwi, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, and 4 ice cubes. Green, ghoulish, and good for you!

25 October, 2010

Creepy Cities

How would you like to live in Satan's Kingdom? Or Skull Valley? How about Frankenstein? Believe it or not, those are actual, for-real frightening names of cities in the United States. In honor of Halloween, click here to read Realtor.com's list of the 50 scariest town names in the U.S.

22 October, 2010

Tear-Free Handwriting

Letters and Numbers for Me
My eight year old was a super early reader, but legible handwriting has always been a challenge for her (And her mother, for that matter). So, last year, my daughter's second grade teacher recommended the Handwriting Without Tears workbook series for at-home handwriting practice. 
The series was developed by occupational therapist Jan Olsen, so it is a great resource for  kids with fine motor skill difficulties. There are workbooks from pre-kindergarten through grade five. The workbooks are simple and enjoyable. My daughter actually looks forward to practicing her handwriting now. Which is quite an improvement.

To visit the Handwriting Without Tears website, click here.

20 October, 2010

"On the Cheap"

I went to a science museum with my family this summer. It was a free admission day so the woman at the ticket counter asked me to write down our names and email address. Then she asked me how I heard about the science museum's free admission day. 

Miami on the Cheap, I said. 
She did not suppress her laughter. 
I laughed too. It wasn't the first time I'd been labeled as a cheapskate. And it won't be the last.

Website "Cities on the Cheap" keeps you up to date on all of things free and discounted in a daily email or by tweet or facebook update. If a local concert hall, museum, theatre, or restaurant in your town is  offering a discount or promotion, you will be the first to know about it.  The site is comprehensive too. Cities in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Caribbean are included. Click here to find your "City on the Cheap".

18 October, 2010

Getting Artsy

This weekend was Family Day in the Design District of Miami. Once a month, chic interior design shops, restaurants, and art galleries open their doors to tots. Projects and activities for kids are conducted by volunteers. You can make art and look at art at the same time. It is free. It is artsy. It is fun.

We made graffiti on store windows.
We even turned this sock...
Into this sock monkey.
Arts districts in many cities have similar  family friendly events. Check out your town's community calendar to find one near you.

15 October, 2010

Character Study

Kids know all about cartoon characters these days. But what about historical characters? Many of them are just as colorful (wink, wink). The Learning Together activity this week is a Character Study. Choose a character in history to study with your child. Get some books about him/her at the library. Do some internet searches on that person. Find a good quality photograph or painting of that person. Your child can draw that character. Write about that character. Illustrate a cartoon about that character. Your child can even dress up like that character. (Last minute Halloween costume, anyone?) A homeschool group that I know of meets in a local library for a "character party" in which all of the party-goers are dressed like historical figures. Try it. Learning about history can be a really fun past-time. (wink, wink)

13 October, 2010

Second Best

I've got a little secret. I shop at second-hand stores. Consignment boutiques. Attic sales. You know, places that sell used stuff. Most of my clothes, my kids clothes, my husband's dress shirts, and even one of our Halloween costumes this year come from the Goodwill down the street.

Don't knock it until you've tried it. It is great fun to search through random stuff and stumble upon something unique, something adorable, something just right. When you shop at a department store, you are at the mercy of that particular store's vendors, their buyers, and the current fashion trend (and I absolutely refuse to purchase a t-shirt with some tweeny, teen-y singer on it)

When you shop at a "thrift" store, you just never know what you are going to end up with. Through the years, I have come home with Italian, Brazilian, Japanese, Spanish, and French brands as well as U.S. and British brands such as Sax Fifth Avenue and Marks and Spencer. I have also found Prada, Roberto Cavalli, and Versace for dollars.

Did I mention that second-hand stuff is dirt cheap? That's what puts the "thrift" in thrift shop after all.