Friday, February 29, 2008

Miss Eliza

Well I went nuts last month and signed up for a Doll swap at 2:00 A.M. When I got up in the morning at 8:00 A.M. I choked because I realized that I had joined into a group way out of my league. I thought it was a rag doll swap. Sooooo I have panicked and fussed all month trying to come up with a doll worthy of the swap. Here is what I made. Eliza 2

Her name is Miss Eliza Lizard. She is dressed for tea. Who will invite her to come?

She is going to go visit Miss Cheryl. I hope she likes Eliza.

Eliza 1
Ok I got a hold of photo shop and I wasted an hour. I need some tutorials!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sassy Apron Swap - Spring Apron Recieved

I got my apron today!!!
Can you tell I am excited? Bryan took a picture of me in it and then I found these that Robin already took and decided to spare you my fatness.
My partner is Robin of Tallulah Sophie.
She makes beautiful aprons. Go check her sites out and give her some blogging love!
She made me the most wonderful Gardening apron. It is chuck full of pockets. I am always needing more pockets to put things when I am out in the garden.
She also included a Chili recipe, some flower seed packets, a garden angel, and a Tin box bucket.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sassy Apron Swap - Spring Apron

Well I finished my apron for the Sassy Apron Swap and have it ready to ship off today.
The requirements for the apron were that it must be spring themed, have a pocket, and come with a soup recipe.
Spring Apron 3
My partner is tall and has a liking for Japanese fabric. This apron came from a Japanese apron book my nephew brought back from Osaka for me. The pockets are made from Scrap Kimono fabric from his great Aunt's Kimono shop in Osaka.
Spring Apron 2
I made the apron out of light weight linen. I added the blossoms at the neckline to add a touch of spring.
Spring Apron 1
I hope my partner likes it. :o)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Child at Play

The Boy and His Other Horse

My sister Kathy sent me this link today. It is very interesting. I have felt that we need to look much more closely at our children’s play or the lack there of. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and am always fascinated by how children interact with each other and with their environment. If you read nothing else on my blog, please do read this article. They make a strong point about the toys introduced on TV but I also feel that the introduction of the Mickey Mouse Show started a major change in our children's play behavior because their imaginative time was replaced by structured programming, limiting the children's imaginative play abilities.
Read the article and tell me what you think.
Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills
by Alix Spiegel

Morning Edition, February 21, 2008 · On October 3, 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club debuted on television. As we all now know, the show quickly became a cultural icon, one of those phenomena that helped define an era.
What is less remembered but equally, if not more, important, is that another transformative cultural event happened that day: The Mattel toy company began advertising a gun called the "Thunder Burp."
I know — who's ever heard of the Thunder Burp?
Well, no one.
The reason the advertisement is significant is because it marked the first time that any toy company had attempted to peddle merchandise on television outside of the Christmas season. Until 1955, ad budgets at toy companies were minuscule, so the only time they could afford to hawk their wares on TV was during Christmas. But then came Mattel and the Thunder Burp, which, according to Howard Chudacoff, a cultural historian at Brown University, was a kind of historical watershed. Almost overnight, children's play became focused, as never before, on things — the toys themselves.
"It's interesting to me that when we talk about play today, the first thing that comes to mind are toys," says Chudacoff. "Whereas when I would think of play in the 19th century, I would think of activity rather than an object."
Chudacoff's recently published history of child's play argues that for most of human history what children did when they played was roam in packs large or small, more or less unsupervised, and engage in freewheeling imaginative play. They were pirates and princesses, aristocrats and action heroes. Basically, says Chudacoff, they spent most of their time doing what looked like nothing much at all.
"They improvised play, whether it was in the outdoors… or whether it was on a street corner or somebody's back yard," Chudacoff says. "They improvised their own play; they regulated their play; they made up their own rules."
But during the second half of the 20th century, Chudacoff argues, play changed radically. Instead of spending their time in autonomous shifting make-believe, children were supplied with ever more specific toys for play and predetermined scripts. Essentially, instead of playing pirate with a tree branch they played Star Wars with a toy light saber. Chudacoff calls this the commercialization and co-optation of child's play — a trend which begins to shrink the size of children's imaginative space.
But commercialization isn't the only reason imagination comes under siege. In the second half of the 20th century, Chudacoff says, parents became increasingly concerned about safety, and were driven to create play environments that were secure and could not be penetrated by threats of the outside world. Karate classes, gymnastics, summer camps — these create safe environments for children, Chudacoff says. And they also do something more: for middle-class parents increasingly worried about achievement, they offer to enrich a child's mind.
Change in Play, Change in Kids
Clearly the way that children spend their time has changed. Here's the issue: A growing number of psychologists believe that these changes in what children do has also changed kids' cognitive and emotional development.
It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.
We know that children's capacity for self-regulation has diminished. A recent study replicated a study of self-regulation first done in the late 1940s, in which psychological researchers asked kids ages 3, 5 and 7 to do a number of exercises. One of those exercises included standing perfectly still without moving. The 3-year-olds couldn't stand still at all, the 5-year-olds could do it for about three minutes, and the 7-year-olds could stand pretty much as long as the researchers asked. In 2001, researchers repeated this experiment. But, psychologist Elena Bodrova at the National Institute for Early Education Research says, the results were very different.
"Today's 5-year-olds were acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today's 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago," Bodrova explains. "So the results were very sad."
Sad because self-regulation is incredibly important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child's IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn. As executive function researcher Laura Berk explains, "Self-regulation predicts effective development in virtually every domain."
The Importance of Self-Regulation
According to Berk, one reason make-believe is such a powerful tool for building self-discipline is because during make-believe, children engage in what's called private speech: They talk to themselves about what they are going to do and how they are going to do it.
"In fact, if we compare preschoolers' activities and the amount of private speech that occurs across them, we find that this self-regulating language is highest during make-believe play," Berk says. "And this type of self-regulating language… has been shown in many studies to be predictive of executive functions."
And it's not just children who use private speech to control themselves. If we look at adult use of private speech, Berk says, "we're often using it to surmount obstacles, to master cognitive and social skills, and to manage our emotions."
Unfortunately, the more structured the play, the more children's private speech declines. Essentially, because children's play is so focused on lessons and leagues, and because kids' toys increasingly inhibit imaginative play, kids aren't getting a chance to practice policing themselves. When they have that opportunity, says Berk, the results are clear: Self-regulation improves.
"One index that researchers, including myself, have used… is the extent to which a child, for example, cleans up independently after a free-choice period in preschool," Berk says. "We find that children who are most effective at complex make-believe play take on that responsibility with… greater willingness, and even will assist others in doing so without teacher prompting."
Despite the evidence of the benefits of imaginative play, however, even in the context of preschool young children's play is in decline. According to Yale psychological researcher Dorothy Singer, teachers and school administrators just don't see the value.
"Because of the testing, and the emphasis now that you have to really pass these tests, teachers are starting earlier and earlier to drill the kids in their basic fundamentals. Play is viewed as unnecessary, a waste of time," Singer says. "I have so many articles that have documented the shortening of free play for children, where the teachers in these schools are using the time for cognitive skills."
It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Winter Quilt Swap

Winter Swap 1
I got this bunch of lovely stuff today from my Four Season's Quilt Swap Partner, Angela.
The box was full of lovely stuff and then the most marvelous quilt.
Angela's Quilt
It has this poem on it
Dust of Snow by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Winter Swap 2
Winter Swap 3

Cherry Pie Special - PPP - February

Cherry Pie Special
Nothing says pie quite like a slice of GOOD Cherry pie. Everything in the world is alright for about 10 minutes while you slowly savor the tartness of the cherries, the sweetness of the sauce, the buttery flaky-ness of the crust and the cool creaminess of the vanilla ice cream.
Are you drooling yet?!
This recipe has been one of my favorites since I was a very little girl. My favorite part of Thanksgiving has always been the pies after the meal. My mother and my sisters and I would sit around the table after the rush and the meal were over and would taste the pies, talk, and laugh a lot. My earliest memories of family gatherings involve these pies. My mother and my sisters are famous for their pies. I just try to keep up. :o)
Here is my special pie tip for the month.
USE FRESH CHERRIES. You can make pie from cherries that come in the can packed in water in a pinch but if you want a cherry pie that makes everything in the world OK then you need to use fresh or frozen (not in sugar) cherries.
Last year my good friend Jill Ann hooked me up with a source for quality frozen cherries. They don't come cheap but they are so worth it. Bryan, who really hates cherry pie was a little miffed at my spending so much on cherries. He came home and found the remnants of a cherry pie I made for myself and the kids and finished the thing off and came looking for me to find out WHAT IN THE HECK WAS THAT!! "That," I told him, "was CHERRY pie, REAL Cherry pie!" It is now his all time favorite. He has been begging me to make it and that is how it made it to February's pie spot. I was going to make it for Valentine's Day but had strep and he sent me to bed and took the kids out to give me the day off. That was great!!
My source for the cherries is..... Bithell Farms they deliver directly to you 3 different times per year. You can contact them to find out when they are coming to your area. I have used their cherries, red raspberries, and their apricots (apricot pie to come later this year!).
On to the pie.....
Cherry Pie Special 2
Cherry Pie Special

Pastry for a 2 crust pie 1 tsp lemon juice
4 cups frozen, pitted, tart red cherries 4 drops red food coloring
2 ½ Tbsp quick cooking tapioca 1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt 1 Tbsp butter
¼ tsp almond extract Vanilla ice cream
Mix frozen cherries, tapioca, salt, almond extract, lemon juice, food coloring, and sugar. Mix and let sit until the cherries are mostly thawed. While that sits, you can make your pie crust.
Fit pastry into a 9 inch pie pan and trim about 1 inch beyond the edge of the pan. Fill with cherry mixture, Dot with butter. Roll out the rest of your pie dough and make the top. Either use a while piece of dough and cut vents or make 14 strips from the dough and make a lattice top. Moisten the rim of the pie when you add the lattice strips. Take the remaining strips and place them around the edge of the pie and press together. (I found that this edge is to keep the lovely pie juices from spilling out during cooking, duh!) For a pretty pie crust, brush the top with cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
Bake in a hot over (450 deg F) for 40 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 deg for about 20 minutes. I added this extra time at the end because I found that the pie was never quite done, especially when you use fresh or frozen cherries. Then I turned the oven off and let the pie cool off in the oven with the door propped open.
Cherry pie is best served cool. This allows the tapioca to set up and you have a lovely looking pie!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Winter Weather - Winter Quilt

We had another little ice storm yesterday.
It always makes the trees look so beautiful. The roads are incredibly dangerous though. Bryan had a small accident and ended up in the ditch while trying to deliver the mail (come rain, come sleet, come snow .... you know the mail must go on). We spent the rest of the day trying to get him out and then at the Auto repair shop trying to fix our car and my brother's car after trying to help him. Sam needed a new alternator and I needed my van's thermostat fixed.
I love how the branches look, covered all round with ice.
We even got icicles. We never get icicles here! WQ5
The poor animals didn't like it. Joe had to keep going out and breaking the ice in the goat water.
The chickens found the one warm place. They gathered around the front door. Jeddie figured this out and kept throwing them bits of his food all day. They love him! At least he didn't let them all in the house this time. (Another day another crazy story)

Winter Quilt 2008
Today I finished and packaged up my Winter Quilt for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap. I was delayed because of my father's death, then I picked a "simple" quilt design. It really was quite easy but VERY time consuming. I had no idea it would take that long. I though (as usual) that I could whip it out in one afternoon and send it off a day late. Four days later, I finally finished sewing all the blue strips together. Then it took me a few more days to even up the pieces, set them, and finally hand quilts it. (I did make two of the quilts just in case I messed up, that was good because I did and then I had a "better of the two" to send.) WQ6
Here is a close-up. The theme of the quilt had to be winter. The name of my quilt is Frosty Window. One of my favorite childhood memories of winter was the beautiful frost patterns I would find on my window in the morning. My house now doesn't have this due to double paned window, insulation, and central heat and air. Come to think of it, I don't see the patterns on the car windows here either. Hmmm, wonder why? It must have something to do with too much humidity or something.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Apron Happiness

Originally uploaded by angry chicken
Ok I have to share this information with all of you. Meg over at Montessori by Hand has offered up this apron pattern. I have to admit that I didn't wait 5 seconds before I ran out and ordered one. This apron is HOT!!
Run over to her bog and check it out!!
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