Super Bowl Bingo, 2014

2 Feb

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and that means that it’s time for football!  Unless you’re a fair weather fan, or an occasional game watcher, or primarily a proponant of any food that includes Velveeta.  If that is the case, you might be more excited about  the GAME DAY THINGS than the actual GAME.  For those of you that fall into the non-game categories, I bring you another round of Super Bowl Ad Bingo.

super bowl bingo_2014_Page_1

Playing is simple – keep a sharp eye on the ads and have your card handy. When an ad plays, check your card to see if the product or company logo is represented on your grid. If it is, mark it off. You can use a pen, chips, coins, or official bingo dauber. The game is up to you, but I like to play straight-up bingo, no four corners, no postage stamp, no blackout. First person to get bingo is the WINNER (prize is up to you).

Want to play along? Open the attachment below and print as many sheets as you need. There are six different game boards from which to choose (2 boards per page). Good luck!

Print it: super bowl bingo_2014

State of the Union, 2014

28 Jan

As we make our way through a steady stream of school cancellations and the brains of our students slowly turn to mush, I’m looking forward to tonight’s opportunity to sharpen our pencils and get out the clipboards. We’re really excited to watch the State of the Union Address, or as Martin will likely call it, “Another Thing You Make Me Watch”.

To help keep our focus, we’ve created the Unofficial State of the Union Worksheet. Using this sheet, we’re going to track the usage of the terms we think are likely to be included in the speech. We’re going to keep it very simple, leaving tally marks each time we hear a phrase used. Now in our second year of SOTU Worksheets, we’ve done through a major reorg. For the 2014 edition, we’re grouping terms under topics that are likely to be covered. We’re hopeful that this will make it easier to track as the President is speaking on each subject.

And, as a bonus, we’ve created a new section – SOTU BUZZ. This section is left blank and can be filled out in any way you’d like. Here are some ideas we’re considering:
– Track the number of times the camera shows The First Lady
– Add buzz words that are used A LOT
– Track how long it takes for the first person at our house to fall asleep
– Track the number of times that individual citizens are named and shown by the camera

State of the Union Worksheet 2014

As always, I have explained to my children that watching the State of the Union is required by all U.S. Citizens that have access to the address.  So, if you see them tomorrow, please don’t tell them otherwise.  And if you play along, show them your completed worksheet.  It will reinforce the other thing I’ve been telling them, which is that I am a woman of GREAT INFLUENCE.

Print it: State of the Union Worksheet 2014

Prefer last year’s edition?  Go ahead and use it!  Fortunately for me, the terms on last year’s list are likely contenders for this one as well.

Lunch Log, 2nd Edition

4 Apr

A few years ago, after a conversation between Sophie and her cousin Grace, we realized that when it comes to lunch, someone else’s always looks better.  To help the girls keep track of what they liked about their own lunch, and what they spied in someone else’s lunch that looked particularly tasty, we created The Lunch Log.  Like every great worksheet project, they used it for awhile until it lost its luster.  Over the past two years, we’ve pulled it out and used it occasionally, usually when the lunch whining became particularly strong.

Recently, we’ve been talking about tracking food again, but this time for a different purpose.  For quite some time, Sophie has had stomachaches, and we can’t quite figure out what is causing her trouble.  We’ve tried adding more of certain foods into her diet, cut back on other things, and encouraged her to drink lots of water.  Some days are definitely better than others, but we’re not seeing consistent results.  In conversations with friends, I know that there are lots of families who are having similar experiences.  It’s easy to spot the connection between what you eat and how you feel, but identifying foods that are causing trouble takes some time and diligence.  It is a slow and tedious process.

Fact: There may be a direct connection between stomachache reduction and worksheet completion.*

*Totally not a fact.

While no worksheet has been scientifically proven to cure stomachaches, tracking what you eat and noting how you feel after doing so can certainly help to make the connections between food and the way your body feels.  By writing it all down, we’re reducing some of the mystery and giving us the tools we’ll need to pay attention and find patterns.

Tracking is easy – simply complete the worksheet after each meal.  If your child is a pretty good reader and writer, let them do the writing and add details as needed.  At the end of the day, use the Recap section as a way to identify whether there was enough variety in the foods consumed to provide the nutrients needed for wellness and growth.  Overall, the goal is to create an awareness between what you eat and how you feel, so don’t worry too much about 100% accuracy.  Unless 100% accuracy is very important to you, in which case I apologize that I’m using LUNCH to represent ALL FOOD CONSUMED REGARDLESS OF THE TIME OF DAY.

lunch log_diagram_v2_Page_2

Items you will need:
• Mini binder (holds 5.5” x 8.5” sized pages)
• Adjustable 3-hole punch or hand-held paper punch
• Scissors or paper cutter
• Pencil
• Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
• Printed cover and inside pages (see links below)

Print it:
Lunch Log, 2nd Edition – Lunch Log Cover, Instructions, Inside Pages
Lunch Log, 2nd Edition – Inside Pages Only

The Pope, or 1 of 1 Religious Posts

19 Mar

As the world watched the Vatican getting ready for a new Pope, we prepared over here as well.  And by prepared, I mean that I talked about it with Sevda, poured over this book, and made Martin take a picture pretending to be engrossed in everything he was not learning.

pope_prep

I really love the ritual, grandeur, secrecy, and pomp of all things surrounding the Vatican and the papacy.  So imagine my surprise when the new Pope turned out to be such a normal guy.  Riding in a bus, settling up at the hotel, walking 100 feet instead of riding in a car.  Totally.  Normal.  Guy.

I mean, he does his own stuff.

pope_dance

He joins the people.

pope_farm

And he doesn’t shy away from those who are different.

pope_padua

 

Clearly, my kind of Pope guy.

 

 

State of the Union, THE WORKSHEET

11 Feb

I think it’s pretty well documented that around here, we love a good worksheet.  Debates, Super Bowl Bingo, Lunch Log – we’re not picky.  Give us a crisp worksheet, a clipboard, and a sharp #2 Dixon Ticonderoga, and we’re happy.  At least 66% of our household is happy.

So, tomorrow night, Sophie and I will be sitting in front of the laptop with clipboards in hand while Martin moans with the unfairness of it all, as we watch the State of the Union.

To keep everybody’s attention, we’ve created the Unofficial State of the Union Worksheet.  Using this sheet, we’re going to track the usage of the terms we think are likely to be included in the speech.  We’re going to keep it very simple, leaving tally marks each time we hear a phrase used.  We’re not going to worry about total accuracy and there’s no way to win.  Unless of course, you count a night with clipboards and your children as a win.  WHICH I DO.

State of the Union Worksheet

 

Want to join us?  Print your own!

Print it: State of the Union Worksheet

Super Bowl Bingo, 2013 Edition

1 Feb

Back by super popular demand (hey Adria!  what’s up Dawn?), it’s SUPER BOWL BINGO.  Practically guaranteed* to hold the interest of almost any non-game watching game watcher.  Playing is simple – keep a sharp eye on the ads and have your card handy.  When an ad plays, check your card to see if the product or company logo is represented on your grid.  If it is, mark it off.  You can use a pen, chips, coins, or official bingo dauber.  The game is up to you, but I like to play straight-up bingo, no four corners, no postage stamp, no blackout.  First person to get bingo is the WINNER (prize is up to you).

super bowl bingo_2013_Page_1

Want to play along?  Open the attachment below and print as many sheets as you need.  There are six different game boards from which to choose (2 boards per page).  Good luck!

Print it: super bowl bingo_2013

 

*not guaranteed at all

Bean and Bacon Soup

26 Oct

Over the years I have purchased a wide assortment of dried beans.  Each time I’ve used whatever I needed for a specific recipe, closed up the bag, and stacked it in the cupboard.  Now, after several years, I don’t just have “some beans” in the cupboard, I have a BEAN CUPBOARD.

Some people collect Precious Moments, and I collect dried beans.  And still, I win.

Dried beans are a great thing to have on hand, but using them requires a bit of planning.  My favorite way to prep beans is to brine them.  It just couldn’t be easier and consistently produces a tender and well-seasoned bean.  Brining beans works basically like this: mix water and salt, add beans, let sit for good while, rinse, then cook.  Done.  And that’s exactly what I did when making this soup.  In the morning I brined the beans and by the time I was ready to make the soup for dinner they were ready to go.

This soup is very hearty, flavorful, and tasty.  It is stick-to-your-ribs thick, so feel free to add more stock or water to bring it to the consistency that you like.  If you save it and reheat it, you’ll definitely want to add more water.  Between the brining and the bacon, this is a fairly salty soup so be sure to give it a check before adding any more at the end.  And although it doesn’t fit my official criteria for a low-calorie item, it comes in awfully close at 309 calories/serving.  Plus, there’s bacon in it.

Make some; it’s delicious.

Bean and Bacon Soup
Serves: 5

4 c. water
1/4 c. Kosher salt
1 c. dried pinto beans
1 c. dried cannellini beans
2 strips pepper bacon
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
5 c. chicken stock
1 c. carrots, sliced

 

In a large bowl, stir together water and salt until salt is dissolved.  Add dried beans, and let sit at least 4 hours up to overnight.  After soaking, remove beans from brine and rinse.  Set aside.

In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove and set aside.  Add onion and garlic, reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 5 minutes or until it is golden in color.  Slowly add stock, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom.  Increase heat, add beans, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 60 minutes or until the beans are tender.

Using a potato masher, mash some beans to help thicken the soup.  Crumble the bacon and add to the soup, add carrots,  and cook covered for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

 

Estimated Calories:  309 cal/serving

Print it: Bean and Bacon Soup

Roasted Potatoes and Tomatoes with Kalamata and Rosemary

10 Oct

As part of my end of the season bounty, I have a big pile of slowly ripening cherry tomatoes.  At the peak of the cherry tomato season, we’d easily polish off a bowl in an afternoon just as a wander-by snack.  They were delicious eaten that way, but now that it’s the end of the season, they are a little more sour and less popular.  And at this stage, the time between “almost ripe” and “super ripe” is pretty short.  So, to boost the sweetness and encourage consumption, I decided to roast the tomatoes with a few of our favorite things and serve it up as a side.  And. It. Was. Awesome.

Unless you are my son, who says that the smell of rosemary can ruin a life.  And of course, he is wrong.

This dish could not be easier.  Cut up a bunch of stuff, throw it in a covered casserole, put it in the oven, stir and serve.  It would be excellent served with pork, chicken, turkey, or wild game.  It is very versatile and packed with flavor.  If you were cooking for a crowd, it would be easy to double – just increase the cooking time until the potatoes are tender.  So easy, so delicious.  You should make some.

Roasted Potatoes and Tomatoes with Kalamata and Rosemary
Serves: 6

 

1 lb. red potatoes, cut into big chunks
½ lb. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
1 t. rosemary, minced
Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
½ c. kalamata olives, halved

 

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a casserole dish combine potatoes through rosemary and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and bake for 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir in kalamata olives and set aside for 5-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

 

Estimated Calories:  123 cal/serving

Print it:  Roasted Potatoes and Tomatoes with Kalamata and Rosemary

 

Bourbon Caramel Green Tomato Pie

9 Oct

Give me a few ingredients Lynne Rossetto Kasper-style and I can make something that lands somewhere between edible and tasty, as long as we’re not talking sweets.  Baking does not come easily to me, and it took me a long time before the successes outweighed the failures.  I’ve looked to others for advice and have found the following greatly increase my chance of success:

1. Buy store-bought pie crust (Betty and Connie)
2. When making apple pie, use half white sugar and half brown sugar (Grandma Muder)
3. Put some bourbon in it (my mom, obviously)

Putting all three into play resulted in my go-to pie recipe, Caramel Apple Pie, which I loved so much I renamed it LOVE POTION NO. 9.  If you have an abundance of apples or want to make someone fall in love with you*, I’d highly recommend it.  Last year, thanks to the prolific apple tree in my parents yard, I DID have an abundance of apples.  This year was not an apple producing year, however, so I thought that LOVE POTION TESTING would be out until my mom handed me a big bag of green tomatoes and mentioned Green Tomato Pie.  Two seconds with Google told me that this Southern specialty might be the answer I was looking for to use up the green tomatoes and continue my scientific study.

Although technically, green tomatoes can count as any unripened tomato, this is the best time of year to use them in this way.  Earlier in the year, while the days and nights are still warm, tomatoes will do their best to ripen while on the vine.  Once a frost hits though, the chances that they will sweetly ripen on the vine are pretty slim.  It’s at this point that you can try to force them to ripen (best bet here is to leave them in a paper bag and check on them once in awhile to see if any are ready) or to embrace the green.  The tomatoes force ripened are still better than the tomatoes you’ll find in a mid-winter Midwestern grocery store, but they lack the flavor and sweetness of a summer-ripened counterpart.  My suggestion is to do a little bit of both, and with 2 lbs. of the green tomatoes, make yourself this pie.

I was apprehensive about what a tomato would taste like when used in place of apples in a pie, but once I got over the thought of it, the flavor and texture proved to be awesome.  I read that a few people said “you’ll never know it’s not apple!”, and I think that might be a bit optimistic.  While the color and taste are not easily identifiable, I would not say that they are an apple dead-ringer.  However, they were much sweeter and tastier than I’d expected, and all my other tasters agreed, helping to polish off this pie in two days flat.

Bourbon Caramel Green Tomato Pie
Serves: 12

Green Tomato Mixture
2 lb. green tomatoes
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. Kosher salt
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. white sugar

Caramel Sauce
3 T. water
1 T. whiskey or bourbon
3/4 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. water
4 T. non-dairy butter

Pie Stuff
2 prepared pie crusts (non-dairy)
1 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 400° F. Remove prepared pie crusts from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop in the tomatoes and boil for about 3-5 minutes or until the skins split.  Remove from water and cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove as much skin from the tomatoes as possible.  Cut off the stem end, quarter the tomatoes, and slice thinly.  Place sliced tomatoes on paper towels and pat to remove excess liquid.  Place tomatoes in a large bowl and add lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, flour and sugar. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the first three ingredients for the caramel sauce and set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup water. Set over medium-high heat and cook for about five minutes. Remove from pan and whisk in the butter.  Add the whiskey mixture and stir until everything is well mixed and smooth.  Pour over tomato mixture and stir to combine.

Transfer 1 dough round to a deep pie pan. Unfold and ease into pan, patting it into the pan. Pour tomato mixture into the pie shell. Unfold the second dough round and place over the top. Press the sides together to make a tight seal around the outside edges, and then cut 6-8 slits on the top of the pie. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake until the crust is golden, for about an hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 1-1/2 hours before serving.

Estimated Calories:  267 cal/serving

Print it: Bourbon Caramel Green Tomato Pie

Notes:
– This is a saucy pie and while baking it can easily bubble over.  I’d highly recommend placing a baking sheet underneath the pie while baking to catch any saucy drips.
– Even with the store-bought crust, I still had trouble when rolling it out.  So, Sophie and I made a few decorative patches for the crust in the form of flowers and vines to seal up the holes left behind by my poor rolling skills.  I liked the look so much, I think I’ll do it again.  It took very little time and made the pie look extra FANCY.
– The first time I made the pie I used whiskey and the second time I used bourbon. My taste buds are not finely tuned enough to catch the difference when used in this recipe.  I think either one is just fine.
– Not all store-bought pie crust is non-dairy, so be sure to check the ingredients if non-dairy is important to your family.

*never actual proven, but  I love data and look forward to your research.

Listen, Learn, Decide: 2012 Presidential Debate

3 Oct

It doesn’t happen very often that I declare absolute control over what we watch on TV, usually opting not to watch at all while the kids get their fill of all things DISNEY/NICK/CARTOON NETWORK.  But every once in awhile, there are events that I want to watch, requiring that I take temporary charge of the remote control.  When this happens, I’ve found that there are two things that make this abrupt change in behavior much more acceptable:

1. Snack trays.
2. Worksheets.

Tonight’s Presidential Debate is one of those TV watching occasions that I really don’t want to miss.  Taking a page from my experience with the Oscars and the Super Bowl, I’ve created a worksheet for the kids to use during the debate.  Armed with a pencil and clipboard, the worksheet will help to keep the kids engaged and listening as the debate happens.

Depending on their age and how much they understand, this may only last for a few minutes, but it gives me the chance to hear the candidates and the kids to start to understand the basics of civic responsibility.  As second and fourth graders, I don’t expect that they will fully grasp the content of the debate or the positions of the candidates, but by watching the process they can start to understand that it is the responsibility of every voter to LISTEN, LEARN and DECIDE.

In each of the worksheet fields, I’ll ask the kids to write a few words or sentences to capture their thoughts – what they heard, what they liked about it, and what they’d like to learn more about.  Lastly, I’ll ask them to make a decision based on what they know.  I’d like the kids to understand that it is equally important to be INFORMED and TO TAKE ACTION.

Want to join us?  Sharpen your pencil, grab a clipboard, and print your own chart below.

Print it: Debate Chart_2012

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