Archive for December, 2011

I abslolutely love books on Cds not for me but for my son. If you haven’t heard of them. They are the best thing ever for occupying a kid. I’m able to do chores around the house (my never-ending laundry, countless dinner preps, and the hopeless case of keeping my floors clean) without my son constantly asking me to play with him. While it might not work for everyone, I have shared with a few friends and some are now believers as well.

Book on CDs are great because it is all audio learning. Something that will help when the kids go to school. Do you remember having to listen to your teacher go on and on about a subject? Well, it helps if you are a good listener! Sunshine has been listening to the books on cds since he was 3. I started him off with Frog and Toad. It did help that we had read the books together. I also found that when choosing books, make sure the accent is one you are familiar with. We tried some British read stories and Sunshine had a hard time following. Now, that he is older, it doesn’t matter but when he first started listening, he had a hard time following the story and would lose interest.

You can find books on cd on Amazon and also at the library. We love the librarians at Saratoga Library because they are love books and have such great suggestions for Sunshine. Because of them, Sunshine was introduced to his all-time favorite book Cricket in Times Square. I had introduced Cricket in Times Square. last year but he wasn’t into it. This year, he can’t get enough of the story. If he has had a busy day, he will actually ask me for quiet time so he can listen to Cricket in Times Square and relax. In one year, I can see how his interests have changed and his vocabulary has improved. I wonder what his favorite books and authors will be. Next year, he starts kindergarten so he might be able to read. Who knows?

So, we are crazy about Books on CD. We have books on cd in our stereo, on our i-touch (Sunshine has one dedicated to his stories) and in our car. It has been a lifesaver for me. Some of his favorites stories include:

What do you do to occupy your child? What books have you been listening to? We love more suggestions 🙂


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With 2012 right around the corner and Christmas just behind me, I’m taking it slow this holiday season. In the past, I would pack our days with activities and while it was great to see friends and do lots of things, I felt exhausted. For some reason, I felt the need to make sure we had lots going on and the joy of the holiday was sometimes lost due to the holiday pressure. This year, we still have holiday commitments but I kept them to a minimum. So, the ones we did attend were extra special and fun. They were exhausting cuz the schedule was thrown off with late night dinners but they were still worth going to.

A friend asked me what I was doing on the 31st and I said, I don’t know. It was weird but I didn’t really care. I told her that we were going to play it by ear and see how the week turned out. We didn’t have too many commitments and it felt great. It was nice to have the freedom to lounge at home. Today, I ate homemade cookies (a few few too many), listened to holiday music, had our neighbors over for impromptu playdate, and watched Sunshine play with his legos and make Snow (will post about this later!).  Tomorrow, I’m going to take Sunshine to my yoga class and get in some me time. It should be interesting, hopefully it will turn out ok.

Without having anywhere to rush off to, it is easier to take it slow and have some time to enjoy things and reflect. I haven’t had a chance to think deeply about my new year resolutions. But, I have some thoughts brewing … and hopefully before 2012 hits, I have a few good ones. I do have 5 more days!

How are you going to enjoy the last few days of 2011? Any good resolutions?

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So, I’m a little in love with mini pies especially the savory ones. They are the perfect sized meal for a cold winter day. Great to freeze and relatively easy to make. At first, the world of mini pies was new to me. So, I went to Sur La Table and asked for help. The sales lady suggested I started out simple with a Chicago Metallic Mini Pie Pan.  After using it, I liked it if I was going are to bake 4 pies at once. But, then I realized I wanted some flexibility in freezing the mini pies for Sunshine to take to school so I invested in mini pie pans. I used the dough cutter from the Chicago set which I love because the size works on my Corningware French Pop In Dishes too.

For my mini pies, I have to admit, I have been cheating a little. I use the ready rolled out pastry pie crust. I’ve tried Pillsbury and Trader Joe’s and so far so good. I read that the one from Wholes Food tasted the best. Now, that I have master the fillings, I will attempt to make pie dough but until then, ready-made is good enough for me. 

Since my mini pie discovery, we have been having them once a week since Sunshine likes them so much. I’ll have to work on the sweet pies as I’ve been working on savory ones.

Using my new pie pan for spinach and feta and berry mini pies.

Yummy, baked mini pies.

 I’m eyeing this Breville Pie Maker from Williams Sonoma. Next time, I’m there, I want to check it out. Supposedly, you can bake a pie in 8 minutes. I do love gadgets especially those that save me time!
I’m looking for more mini pie recipes, if you have any, please share 🙂 Or, suggestions on how to best freeze them.

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Sunshine loves doing science experiments and we saw this one on Tinkerlab. It was simple. All you need is celery, water, and food coloring. Of course, a little patience. The celery change took a few hours but for the color to fully be absorbed, we waited a few days. Everyday, after school Sunshine would race to see how his celery had changed. After we did our experiment, I realized we should have used taller glasses and submerged as much celery as possible. This would accelerate the color absorption.

Overall, it was fun to see how the celery changed color and how much the celery would changed. We noticed that yellow was not a great color to see the difference. Most noticeable was the color blue.

So, what’s happening to the celery? The celery like us needs water to survive. Thus, it uses its capillaries to drink water and in doing so, it absorbed the food coloring. Fun, huh?

Our starting out point, 3 cups of regular water.

We had a yellow, orange, and blue cup for the experiment.

Isn't the color absorption neat?

We had the celery root and leaf end both submerged in water and both ends absorbed the colors.

After several days, we took the celerys out and cut them open to see how far the colors were absorbed in.

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Dear Santa Letter

Sunshine loves Christmas (so do I) and has been asking how Santa makes and deliver the presents. Where does he live? How does he get to our house? When is Christmas? Is Christmas here yet?

To start our Christmas celebration, we decided to have him write Santa a letter. Sunshine looked through some kid catalogs and choose 2-3 presents he was interested in having Santa deliver. He cut out the photos and glued them onto his letter. Santa would choose one present to deliver based on what the elves made (this also gave mommy more options to find the gift!). We hung the letter on our entry board so Sunshine could think over his gift selection. He had the right to change his mind before he mailed the letter.

What did you or your kids want this Christmas?

Dear Santa 2011 Letter


Working hard on his Santa letter.

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Old fashion fun … Jump roping

One thing I love about moving home is enjoying the simple life. It is so easy to be outside. No crazy cars or smog. As a child, I remember playing outside all the time … running and jumping with friends.  The other day, my neighbor taught Sunshine how to jump rope. He was really excited and kept practicing. It was quite a workout.

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For about 2 weeks, I was a little obsessed with using my mom’s slow cooker. It’s been a work in progress learning the ins and out of how to best cook with a slow cooker. I realized that each cooker is different so recipes and cooking times need to be modified. There are lots of recipes online and it has been a creative challenge to cook with the slow cooker. The best thing about the slow cooker is the meal is nice and hot when served. It feels good to finally learn how to use the slow cooker. I feel pretty confident now to make clam chowder. Sunshine said it was the best soup ever. My heart melted when he said so.

Salmon chowder

Shepard's pie made with leftover pork roast.


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