Rumpledethumps for St. Patrick’s Day

I’ll start with this: I know this is a Scottish dish and St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday, but I didn’t know that when I started making it, and now it’s tradition in our family.

And I can’t break with tradition now, right?

So Scottish rumpledethumps for St. Patrick’s Day it is. Besides, it’s just so much fun to say!

Rumpledethumps are similar to an Irish colcannon, which is a concoction of potatoes and cabbage. The Scots added butter and cheese, and bam! You have one of my favorite dishes to make all year long.

I serve this with Irish soda bread and some kind of vegetarian Irish stew.

Doesn’t it look good?? Photo via Food.com user Pinot Grigio.

Rumpledethumps
Source: Sundays at Moosewood
This version: Food.com

5 large potatoes
2-1/2 cups chopped green cabbage
2 leeks, washed and chopped
2-1/2 cups broccoli, coarsely chopped (frozen is OK)
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon mace
salt and pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Peel and coarsely chop the potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes.

Steam the cabbage, leeks, and broccoli.

Melt 2 T of the butter and add the mace.

Combine the cabbage, leeks, and broccoli with the seasoned butter; salt and pepper to taste.

Drain and mash the potatoes with the remaining butter and the milk. Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine potatoes with other vegetables.

Oil a 9 x 13 pan and spread the vegetable mixture in it. Sprinkle with grated cheddar.

Broil for a few minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

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Behind the Scenes: How Do You Get the Wax Off?

Batik involves using hot wax on fabric to resist dye, and in really intricate traditional batik, the fabric goes through several steps of waxing, dyeing, and drying before the wax is removed to finish the art.

My batik is much simpler — I often do white designs on a garment that I then dye. It only has to go through one step of waxing and dyeing.

But the wax still has to come off. I’ve tried scraping it off with my fingernail (doesn’t work) and ironing the garment between layers of paper bag (too slow). The best solution I’ve found?

Boiling.

030414-boiling-01Yep. I make batches of “onesie stew” in my kitchen on a fairly regular basis.

030414-boiling-02After a few minutes in the boiling water, I pour the shirts out and give them a wash on hot in the washer. At that point, they’re almost ready for you!

 

 

 

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5 Valentine Activities You Already Have the Supplies For

I love Pinterest. If I let myself, I could spend hours scrolling through recipes, crafts, and kids’ activities. I’m especially happy when I find a cool idea for which I already have the supplies. Don’t get me wrong: I have lots of pins that are saved for “someday,” and I’m not at all opposed to a trip to the craft store to get what’s needed for a new craft.

But we have so many art and craft supplies already that it’s nice to find things we can do now, without the wait. Here are five I found for Valentine’s Day, some of which we have done and some we have planned.

Colorful Salt Dough Hearts
Via TwoDaloo: http://www.two-daloo.com/valentine-marbled-salt-dough/

I used food coloring for ours, and the colors came out more muted than the example but still very pretty. Plus, we made a ton of them, so we have a lot of love to hand out.

Photo by me.

Photo by me.

Cardboard Hearts
Via Little Bit Funky: http://www.littlebitfunky.com/2013/02/40-ideas-num-16-cardboard-art.html

We opted for valentine colors: Pink, red, purple, and blue. I let my son draw the hearts for each size, so the shapes are all his. A little raffia glued onto the back turns these into pretty ornaments.

Photo by me.

Photo by me.

Love You to Pieces Sign
Via Candy361: http://candy361.blogspot.com/2013/11/valentine-you-make-me-loopy-all-at.html

My mom always tells my son she “loves him to pieces,” so as soon as I saw this craft, I knew we had to do it. My son had other ideas for the working, so he decided to write “I love you lots” instead, but I think the message is still here.

Photo via Candy361.

Photo via Candy361.

Spot the Hearts Game
Via Studio DIY: http://www.studiodiy.com/2012/02/13/diy-valentines-day-game-spot-the-hearts/

My little guy loves a good scavenger hunt, so there will be some hearts hidden around the house when he wakes up Valentine’s Day morning. Think he can find them all before he goes to school?

Photo via Studio DIY.

Photo via Studio DIY.

Valentine Station
Via Living Montessori Now: http://sulia.com/livingmontessorinow/f/ccf0df91-7b0f-4a7b-a90b-1d0a8a05475c/

If all else fails, I like to set out a bunch of holiday-themed supplies and let him go to town. Stickers, stampers, markers, cut-out hearts, and doilies will get them making creative valentines in no time.

Photo via Living Montessori Now.

Photo via Living Montessori Now.

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Olympic Activity Round-Up

I love the Olympics. The pageantry, the athleticism, the coming together of the world for a few days. I enjoy both Olympics, but I really love the Winter Olympics most of all. I’ve always wished I had taken figure skating as a kid, and learning how to curl is on my bucket list.

The television ads for the games and remembering the Summer Games from two years ago has my six-year-old looking forward to the games, too! He was super excited when I found Opening Ceremony bingo a couple of nights ago and has started to ask what the different sports are.

I don’t know what else we’ll do to celebrate besides play bingo next Thursday, but these activities are definitely on my radar. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know how you’re celebrating the Olympics at your house!

Opening Ceremony Bingo
Via Thirty Handmade Days: http://www.thirtyhandmadedays.com/2014/01/winter-olympics-bingo/

3D Ski Jump Art
Via Spoonful.com: http://spoonful.com/crafts/ski-jump-3-d-art

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Image via Spoonful.com

Mini Hockey and Figure Skating
Via Toddler Approved: http://www.toddlerapproved.com/2010/02/mini-olympics-ice-hockey-and-figure.html

OK, my guy’s not a toddler, but I think he would still love to “skate” his toys across the ice and play a game of hockey. And so would I. :)

Salt Dough Medals
Via The Imagination Tree: http://theimaginationtree.com/2012/04/salt-dough-olympic-medals.html

TP Roll Olympic Ring Art
Via Red Ted Art: http://www.redtedart.com/2012/05/01/olympic-crafts-ideas/olympic-art/

This poster is from the London Olympics two years ago, but I love the colors, and I think it would be fun to re-create it by dipping toilet paper rolls in paint.

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Image via Red Ted Art

YOUR TURN: How are you celebrating the Olympics at your house?

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Salt Painting

Winter hasn’t snowed us in yet in Maryland (we’re still waiting!), but on those windy, chilly days we’ve had, we need something indoors to do. A couple of years ago, we tried salt painting. Our artwork came out so cool! I think we have to try this one again.

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Here’s what you need:

Paint (I used poster paint)
Brushes
Heavy paper (I used cardstock)
Large-grain salt (I used Kosher salt)

First, pick a couple of paint colors. We used purple, yellow, green, and glittery red, but I’d recommend darker colors so the effect of the salt shows up well. (It got lost a little on the yellow.) Then, water down the paint so it’s fairly thin.

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The instructions I had showed dragons, so my son decided he wanted to make dinosaurs. We drew our dinosaurs in pencil on the cardstock and painted over them. We didn’t worry about staying inside the lines; I cut them out after they were dry. Put a lot of paint on your drawing. You want lots of liquid for the salt to soak up.

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While the paint is still wet, sprinkle lots of salt all over your artwork. Set aside to dry.

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When the paint is dry, brush off the salt grains, and you’ll see that wherever there was a salt grain, you’ll see a darker patch of paint. If you’d like, add detail to your drawing with a marker. We cut our drawings out and mounted them on black construction paper.

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Here’s the science bit: The salt crystals absorb the water from the paint around it, leaving dark spots where the crystals were because there was more paint there and elsewhere on the paper. Try larger-grain salt for bigger dark spots!

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Lego Birthday Party Inspiration

To say my son is obsessed with Legos is an understatement. He playes with them every. Single. Day. And if he’s not actively playing with Legos, he’s reading Lego books, playing Lego games, or talking about the things he’s going to build.

He loves Legos.

So, it wasn’t difficult to decide what kind of theme we’d do with for his sixth birthday party a few weeks ago. With the help of the clever folks who post on Pinterest, we hosted a fun party with lots of Legos and bright primary colors.

Invitations

I created invitations from blue, green, red, and yellow scrapbooking paper. The card is 4×6, and I made the circles using a 1.5-inch punch. Pop dots lifted the circles so they looked like the studs on Lego bricks.

I used this same idea to make Lego bricks for decorating (see below).

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Inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/193584483956403961/

A Special Shirt

Of course I made my son a special batik T-shirt for his birthday! He chose the color and some of the design elements, and I went to town with the rest. He loved how it came out – he wore it for his party and the next day, which was his actual birthday.

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(Sorry – I won’t be making these to sell, even though I LOVE how it came out! Copyrights and all that. :) )

Decorations

We hung those handmade Lego bricks everywhere, from over the table to the front door to the entry way. I used red, green, yellow, and blue streamers to go with the Legos.

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For the front door, my mom took a big Lego plate and made a “6” sign. So cute!

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Inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/193584483956403965/

The Cake

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I had a blast making his cake this year. I have a big sheet cake pan, so I made one cake and cut it into three pieces to make Lego bricks. The studs were Oreos, and we put favorites from his minfig collection all over the cakes. I was delighted to see that candles fit into Lego coffee cups and wine goblets!

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Inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/193584483956606158/ and http://www.pinterest.com/pin/193584483956606162/

Party Food

We kept food simple: Veggies and dip; cheese and crackers; hummus and pita; and fruit and animal crackers with a fruit dip that is made from a small jar of marshmallow fluff whipped with a package of softened cream cheese. Yum!

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Inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/193584483956403944/

Fun and Games

There are so many fun Lego party game ideas out there that it was hard to narrow it down. We settled on these:

Minifigure Coloring Sheets

I put these out for the kids to color as they came in or whenever they felt like it.

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Inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/193584483954815529/

Lego Building and Racing Ramp

When the kids came in, I invited them to build cars and race them down a ramp my husband and father had built. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of the ramp before it was disassembled and returned to the scrap wood pile.

Inspiration: http://yellowfence.blogspot.com/2009/08/coles-lego-birthday-party.html

Pin the Head on the Minifig

I loved this idea! My husband drew the outline of a minifigure, and we cut blank heads out of yellow paper. The kids drew on faces and took turns pinning the head onto the drawing. Cute!

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Inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/193584483956403962/

Lego Scavenger Hunt

I had originally planned another indoor activity, but we got a rate 70-degree December day here in Maryland, so we took the kids outside for a scavenger hunt. We built 10 Lego creations and hid them in the backyard – after giving my son assurances that we would remember where they all were so nothing got lost. I created a scavenger hunt list for each kid with words and pictures so the readers and nonreaders would be able to search for the creations. They loved getting outside to run around, and we thought working together to help each other find the creations really got the group to gel.

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Party Favors

We sent each kid home with a goodie bag of fun things, including: A mystery Lego minifigure, handmade Lego minifig and brick crayons from https://www.etsy.com/shop/SuziesShop on Etsy, a bouncy ball, and Christmas stickers. At the last minute, my son decided he wanted to add some artwork, so he got to drawing. We photocopied his drawings and put some in each bag. I thought it was an adorable addition!

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My Husband’s Favorite Cookies

The types of treats I make changes every holiday season, but there’s one constant: I have to make White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. They’re the only cookie my husband asks me to make at Christmastime. I don’t think he’d care if I didn’t bake anything else.

This year, I asked if it would be OK if I added macadamia nuts to the cookies. He responded that it would be more than OK.

I use a recipe I cut years ago from the back of a Blue Bonnet margarine box. It’s the only chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever gotten perfectly. I mean, this recipe is idiot-proof. Why?

Because you melt the margarine/butter. No waiting for it to soften, no guessing whether it’s soft enough. Nope. Just pop it in the microwave and go.

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White Chocolate-Cranberry-Macadamia Cookies

2-1/2 c flour
1t baking soda
3/4c margarine or butter, melted and cooled slightly
1-1/2c brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2t vanilla
1/3c dried cranberries*
1/3c white chocolate chips*
1/3c macadamia nuts*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the margarine and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the margarine and brown sugar. Stir in the egg and vanilla until well blended. Mix in the flour and baking soda, and stir until just combined. Stir in the chips, nuts, and cranberries.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto greased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes.

Yield: About 2-1/2 dozen.

*For chocolate chip cookies, use 1c chips in place of the cranberries, white chips, and nuts.

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Snowman in a Baggie

So, we got a bit of snow and ice here in my part of Maryland this weekend, and there’s more on the way. But that’s not always the case, and the last couple of winters, my son and I have spent a lot of time wishing and hoping for snow and being disappointed when it didn’t come.

So last year, I was excited to find this cute snowman craft on Pinterest. Whether you’ve had enough snow or are still waiting for flakes to fall, these are an easy way to pass some time, and they last long enough to be played with for a couple of days.

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You’ll need:

Can of shaving cream (the cheap stuff is OK)
Zip-top baggie (quart or sandwich size)
Black construction paper or craft foam
Orange craft foam
Glitter (optional)

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Cut enough “coal” pieces for each snowman’s eyes and mouth or ask the kids to cut them. I used a circle punch to make my coal pieces and then ran them through a Xyron sticker maker, but you can also use sticky-back foam or glue to hold your eyes on. Cut triangle “carrots” from the craft foam, one for each snowman.

Give each kid a baggie. Attach the eyes and mouth pieces onto the front.

Inside, put the carrot nose and some glitter, if using. Squirt in a generous dollop of shaving cream into the bag and seal, squeezing out some of the air. I taped the bags shut with packing tape.

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Now, get to squishing! See if the kids can line up their snowman’s nose in the proper place on the snowman’s face. Little kids and adults will love the way the shaving cream feels as they squish the bag. The shaving cream will break down after a while, but you can expect to get a couple of days of play out of this guy.

Here’s my son’s finished snowman:

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Easy Holiday Truffles

I love making sweets during the holidays, and this year, I decided to make mostly truffles. I’ll be starting with these recipes, which are two of my favorites: Oreo Truffles and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles. Add a lollipop stick for a fun treat!

Oreo Truffles

This recipe comes from a friend in my MOMS Club. Super, super easy. Start them now, and they’ll be ready to eat in just a couple of hours.

16 oz. package of Oreo cookies, crushed in food processor (or in a Ziploc bag with a wooden spoon)
8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

Mix the cookies and cream cheese together. Form into balls (I used a melon baller for size), and place on wax paper on a cookie sheet. Freeze until set. (I left mine in about two hours.)

Melt chocolate (white or semisweet), and dip the frozen truffles into the chocolate. While the chocolate is still soft, decorate with sprinkles, colored sugar, etc. – a great way for kids to help out!

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Cookie Dough Truffles

This recipe comes from Spare Time Baker, the blog of a talented baker friend. I recently started following her on Pinterest, and the baked goods she shares there are just sinful! These truffles are always a hit, and my son loves them because I let him try the raw cookie dough. No eggs!

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1-1/2 pounds semisweet chocolate candy coating, chopped

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts, if using. Shape into 1-inch balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and freeze for 1-2 hours or until firm. (The dough softens quickly at room temperature so it works best if they are frozen, not just chilled in the refrigerator.)

In a microwave safe bowl, melt candy coating, stirring often until smooth. Dip balls in coating; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. If desired, melt remaining candy coating and drizzle over candies. Store in refrigerator, not that they’ll last that long!

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Now, try to limit yourself to just one. Or two. Better yet — eat a few and share a few!

Happy holidays!

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My Favorite Bread Recipe

I love homemade bread, but I don’t always have time for the kneading and the rising and the punching down and the rising again. So, I was ecstatic when Mark Bittman included this no-knead bread recipe in his column several years ago. Don’t let the preparation time of 18+ hours fool you; most of the time, you’re not doing anything.

This bread is great with pasta or flavored dipping oils. It’s one of my favorite breads to make, and it’s perfect for Thanksgiving dinner!

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No-Knead Bread
Published: November 8, 2006 | Full article
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

Instructions

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

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