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Handmade Holidays: Naughty & Nice Spiced Nuts

December 5, 2011

Naughty and Nice Spiced Almonds

Last year my husband and I gave Naughty and Nice Spicy and Sweet Almonds to our family for Christmas.  Here’s how you can do it too!

Choose nut of your choice. We bought whole almonds from Sam’s Club, which had the best price we found.

I used Ball half-pint jars (I actually scored a case at a yard sale!) and topped them with labels like the ones below. Click here to get your own version.

You could also package in cellophane bags or gift tins.

Nice Sweet Almonds (modified from here)

2 cups whole almonds, skins on

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbs. honey

2 tbs water

2 tsp oil

Directions:

1. Spread the almonds in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan and place in a cold oven. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally until tan colored, about 12-15 mins. Set aside.

2. Mix sugar and salt. Set aside.

3. Stir together honey, water and oil in a pan and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir in almonds and cook until all liquid has been absorbed by nuts (about 5 min).

4. Immediately transfer to another bowl and sprinkle sugar mixture over and toss.

5. Spread on wax paper to cool.

Naughty Spiced Nuts

Follow Steps 1 & 2 above

3. Mix 2 T honey, 2 1/2 T water, 2 tsp oil and  1 tsp + a pinch of red pepper flake. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in almonds and simmer for at least 5 minutes or more to infuse flavor.

Follow Steps 4 & 5


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Happy Thanksgiving and a Bonus Book for Boys!

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

I wanted to share this lovely poem we read this week with our Ambleside Online poetry readings.

A Thanksgiving

by John Kendrick Bangs, 1862-1922

For summer rains, and winter’s sun,
For autumn breezes crisp and sweet;
For labors doing, to be done,
And labors all complete;
For April, May, and lovely June,
For bud, and bird, and berried vine;
For joys of morning, night, and noon,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!

For loving friends on every side;
For children full of joyous glee;
For all the blessed Heavens wide,
And for the sounding sea;
For mountains, valleys, forests deep;
For maple, oak, and lofty pine;
For rivers on their seaward sweep,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!

For light and air, for sun and shade,
For merry laughter and for cheer;
For music and the glad parade
Of blessings through the year;
For all the fruitful earth’s increase,
For home and life, and love divine,
For hope, and faith, and perfect peace,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!

And the book recommendation is actually great for everyone.

Thank You Sarah, The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving tells the inspiring story of Sarah Hale who persisted for 38 years to have Thanksgiving made a national holiday. In addition, she was the first woman magazine editor, the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and mother of 5, among other things.

She was turned down by 4 presidents before Abraham Lincoln heeded the call of her and others to make the holiday official nationwide in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.

The story is fun and conversational with intriguing pictures with some rather put-out turkeys.  A great alternative to all those pilgrim stories 🙂 It also has a great lesson about the power of the pen and makes her and her letters seem like the stuff of  a real superhero.

2011 Boy-Friendly Gift Guide–Older Elementary (9-12)

November 23, 2011

PRESCHOOL  (2-4) |      ELEMENTARY (5-8) |    OLDER ELEMENTARY (9-12)

Welcome to the third day of the 2nd Annual Mobmom Boy-Friendly Gift Guide. These toys and gifts are ones that I either have (***) or would buy for my sons personally. This list does not include the core “boy toys” of cars, trains, action figures and Legos because your house, like mine,  is probably full of those already. It also does not include any video games because we do not own any gaming systems so I don’t have much of an opinion on different ones.

You can read more about my basic toy-buying philosophy here.

Note: The prices are from Amazon unless otherwise noted (as of October 28, 2011). I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click the picture of the toy to make your purchase, I receive a very small percentage of the sale, which helps fund our homeschool. Just FYI!

Erector Set

$19.38

These have been around for a LONG time, but they really are timeless in their appeal. There are many different sets in many price ranges. This one build 10 different models from the 190 included pieces.

Hypotrochoid Art Set

$10.89

This little spiral art drawing kit is great for your little designer.  Hypotrochoids  (what a fancy word!) are mathematical designs created by a point in a circle rolling around inside of a larger circle. I just call it fun.
Heath Kit Garage Parking Assistant

$129
I had never heard of Heath Kits until I read an article about Steve Jobs where he mentioned how important they were to him as a child. In the past they had many DIY kits to build various electronics. Now they are back with the first one of a new line–a Garage Parking Assistant. You put together the devise from scratch (including soldering, etc). I’m not saying your son is the next Steve Jobs, but you just never know!

Piperoid Robots

$15.95

These paper craft robots were designed in Japan and are very collectible. Each of the ones here were created with just five tubes of paper. Other sets are available. A cooler form of origami if you ask me.  Great for your manga fan.

Architecto

$34.79

Architecto is just one of 4 games in this series of block-building challenges. The others–Equilibrio , Tangramino and Cliko –all use the same set of blocks so you can buy just the challenge books separately once you have a set. There are 6 levels of play in each set so there is lots of room for growth with these games. Great for spatial visualization!

Looking for more ideas for Older Elementary aged kids–check our the 2010 edition.

2011 Boy-Friendly Gift Guide–Elementary (5-8)

November 21, 2011

PRESCHOOL (2-4) | ELEMENTARY (5-8) | OLDER ELEMENTARY (9-12)

Welcome to the  2nd Annual Mobmom Boy-Friendly Gift Guide.

These toys and gifts are ones that I either have (***) or would buy for my sons personally. This list does not include the core “boy toys” of cars, trains, action figures and Legos because your house, like mine,  is probably full of those already. It also does not include any video games because we do not own any gaming systems so I don’t have much of an opinion on different ones.

You should probably know my basic toy-buying philosophy.

1) It has to be reasonably priced. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on things they aren’t going to play with. If it costs more, it has to be really awesome.

2) I prefer creativity-building toys that have multiple ways to play with them. You won’t see any “novelty” item toys like Tickle Me Elmo on my list. I, too, own a few, but they just don’t have the kind of “toy life” that puts them on my list.

3) I usually choose toys that do not require batteries.

These are in no particular order, and they are not all safe for young infants/children who eat toys, etc. Use your mama-sense.

Note: The prices are from Amazon unless otherwise noted (as of October 28, 2011). I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click the picture of the toy to make your purchase, I receive a very small percentage of the sale, which helps fund our homeschool. Just FYI!

Boy-Friendly Gifts for Elementary (5-8)


***Snap Circuits Jr.


$22.55

My son got this set last Christmas from his electrical engineer grandfather and it is probably his most-used Christmas gift. It is super easy–clicks to a grid like legos and has easy-to-follow directions. Kids can build more than 100 projects such as simple lights, fans and sound machines.  There are also extension kits and special project versions such a alternative energy or rovers.

Makedo

$19.71

I reviewed these a few months ago, but I think this simple toy would make a great stocking stuffer. It is a simple concept that gives kids lots of freedom for creativity. This set has pieces for 3, but they have simpler sets for 1 child or for specific projects such as a robot. Makedo is a set of connectors that can be combined with repurposed items around the house to invent whatever you can imagine.

***Playing Cards from Heritage

$4.00-7.00

These card sets come in dozens of varieties with everything from trees to birds to mushrooms, dinosaurs, and even kings and queens.  Each set of cards features 52 different items, each beautifully drawn and informative.  A great stocking stuffer!

***PVC Pipe


cheap

My sons inherited some rather long pieces of light PVC piping and they have had more fun with it than just about any other outdoor toy they have. It has been the wings of an airplane, the oars of a boat, a path for berries to roll down, a ninja’s weapon, jousting tools, and much more.  Another idea of PVC piping is to buy short pieces and a bunch of connectors and see what comes together. Add a little hosing and bring on the water play. The ideas are endless. A great open-ended toy.

***No Stress Chess

$16.23

This is a fantastic game to teach your son how to play chess (and you too!) It has multiple levels of play with each one giving the players more freedom to employ strategy. To begin with you just draw cards and move the piece indicated in the way indicated. As you proceed you can select from more and more cards until you are playing as a true chess player would.

OgoSport OgoBild

$23.87

This hybrid of active and construction toy lets kids build their own contraptions using balls and attachable loops, springs, wings and more. Bounce, roll, kick, throw or spin your creations.  All pieces are interchangeable so you can combine with other Ogobild sets for even larger contraptions.

 Engino Mechanical Science Kits



$19.72

Engino’s mechanical science sets offer kids the opportunity to discover tools like levers, cams, gears and more by building multiple models and learning about energy and more.  They also have a few sets that combine multiple concepts. Worth a look for your budding engineer.

Looking for more toys for Elementary age boys? Click here.

What’s on your list? Leave a comment!

2011 Boy-Friendly Gift Guide–Preschool (2-4)

November 20, 2011

PRESCHOOL (2-4) | ELEMENTARY (5-8) |OLDER ELEMENTARY (9-12)

Welcome to the first day of the 2nd Annual Mobmom Boy-Friendly Gift Guide. These toys and gifts are ones that I either have (***) or would buy for my sons personally. This list does not include the core “boy toys” of cars, trains, action figures and Legos because your house, like mine,  is probably full of those already. It also does not include any video games because we do not own any gaming systems so I don’t have much of an opinion on different ones.

You should probably know my basic toy-buying philosophy.

1) It has to be reasonably priced. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on things they aren’t going to play with. If it costs more, it has to be really awesome.

2) I prefer creativity-building toys that have multiple ways to play with them. You won’t see any “novelty” item toys like Tickle Me Elmo on my list. I, too, own a few, but they just don’t have the kind of “toy life” that puts them on my list.

3) I usually choose toys that do not require batteries.

These are in no particular order, and they are not all safe for young infants/children who eat toys, etc. Use your mama-sense.

Note: The prices are from Amazon unless otherwise noted (as of October 30, 2011). I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click the picture of the toy to make your purchase, I receive a very small percentage of the sale, which helps fund our homeschool. Just FYI!

Tobbles

$23.36

Stacking toys are favorites for the preschool set. This interesting and beautiful take on a traditional toy looks like a nice addition.  They stack, topple, spin, balance, wobble, tilt, wiggle, roll. What fun!

Scooter

$18.99

Little ones need lots of opportunities to use their bodies. Occupational therapists seem to love these little sit on/lay on scooters. We were at a local children’ museum and they had several of these for kids to roll around on–big fun! My only wish is that I had hardwoods.

Trucky 3

$23.23

This one is on my list! It’s trucks to drive,  but there is also lots of spatial learning going on.  I think my little one would love this.  As they get older they can work through 48 different challenges involving the trucks and colored pieces.

***Wooden Single Car Race Roller

$49.80

My in-laws picked up one of these traditional toys while traveling in Amish country. This simple car track with ingenious cars that flip themselves to keep rolling is always a HUGE hit with kids of all ages.  It is simply mesmerizing to all of them. It’s a little pricey, but it is handmade and sure to bring generations of enjoyment.  Here is another version that is a little less expensive ($30) — Rainbow Rollers.

P’kolino multi-solution shape puzzles

$14.67

There are various solutions to these creative puzzles that come in a variety of shapes such as a robot head, spaceship, owl and more.  If your child is into puzzles and want to move beyond the basic shapes this might be something to put under the tree.  It’s good to learn early that there might be more than one way to solve a problem.

Robot Matryoshka Dolls

$10-13

I love Matroyshka dolls–these Russian nesting dolls from Matroyshka Madness come in an adorable variety of styles include robots, ninjas and dinosaurs. We have a set of Santas that the boys love to play with each holiday but who wouldn’t want these all year-round!?

Want more ideas for preschool boys? Check out last year’s edition of the Boy-Friendly Gift Guide

Thanks for looking at the first day of the  Boy-Friendly Gift Guide 2011.

Elementary (5-8) and Older Elementary (9-12) will follow later this week so check back.

If you have any ideas of favorite boy-friendly gifts for preschoolers, please comment below!

Hope your Halloween was Happy

November 1, 2011

Books for Boys–Frank Was A Monster . . .

October 28, 2011

In honor of the season, I wanted to share a fun little picture book we found this week.

Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance by Keith Graves

Frank, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Frankenstein, is an ordinary monster with a dream. He seizes the day and well, let’s just say things kind of go downhill from there.

This was a rhyming book with maximum gross factor for the favorite little boy in your life. Very short–perfect for bedtime after Trick-or-Treating!