Irish Soda Bread…AGAIN…Because it’s Delicious!

I first ran this recipe in 2014 but everywhere I go, people comment on the moistness and light sweetness of this bread, so here it is…in time for ST. PATRICK’S DAY.

This recipe for Soda Bread is more moist than many thanks to the buttermilk.  If you can’t find buttermilk, use regular plain yogurt (NOT Greek).

Irish Soda Bread

4 C flour (I use 1C whole wheat)       ½ C sugar       1 T baking powder

1 t salt               1 t baking soda         1 C. raisins plumped (see note)

 4 T melted butter        1 ½ C buttermilk      1 lg. egg

  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease and flour a round pan or cookie sheet.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder and salt.
  3. Pour melted butter into dry ingredients and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in raisins.
  4. In a separate bowl beat buttermilk, egg and baking soda.  Add to flour mix until blended.
  5. Turn dough onto floured surface, and knead until smooth – about 1 minute.  If dough is sticky, flour your hands as you knead.  Shape dough into two round loaves.  soda bread 1
  6. Place dough in prepared pan. With a sharp knife, make 2 crisscross slits in dough.
  7. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.  Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
  8. Serve sliced with butter or jam.  Bet you can’t eat just one piece!

soda bread 2

NOTE: Pour boiling water over the raisins and let them stand for 5 minutes to soften.  Drain and pat dry.

 

Shake Off the Winter Blahs.

 I recently visited the Art Museum on the Princeton University campus. It was great for three reasons. First of all, it’s free. There aren’t many places of culture and enlightenment nowadays that can boast that. And, the collection has something for everyone.  There are sculptures and pottery over 4,000 years old, paintings done by ANDY WARHOL, and everything in between.

The third reason it was a great visit is because where else but an art museum provides peace, quiet, and contemplation along with some magnificent objects of beauty? Being in such an environment frees the mind and allows all sorts of creative energy to enter. Writers who are struggling with writer’s block might find inspiration looking at any painting or sculpture, and stories begin to spring into mind. WHY did the artist choose such a subject? WHAT IF the subject were alive today? WHAT would she/he have to say?  The possibilities for story are endless.

Let the kids go on a SCAVENGER HUNT, searching for specific art pieces throughout the day.  Many museums have programs geared specifically for children.

So, if you feel as if you’re in a rut and need some CHANGE to jump start the muse, visit the Princeton University Art Museum – or ANY art museum and let your imagination run wild. Take notes, snap photos and just doodle in a notebook. You never know, it may be the start of something wonderful. artmuseum.princeton.edu

Didn’t someone say “a picture is worth a thousand words?”

Happy Chinese New Year: Easy Dragon Craft

The Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Saturday 1-28-2017.  It is the YEAR OF THE ROOSTER.  Why not have your kids join in the festivities by making their own CHINESE DRAGON PUPPETS.

Here is all you need (with scissors, tacky glue and some bag clips to hold pieces in place):

2016-01-16-19-52-20I used thin foam pieces for the head and tail, and card stock for the head fin and middle section.  You can also use craft paper for the whole thing, or felt and ribbons or yarn for the mid-section.  Pipe cleaners are another option for the mid section or stems. Let your imagination go for creative designs.

Using the pattern pieces below, cut the number of pieces indicated and set aside.

2016-01-16-19-53-12

 

If you’re using paper for the midsection, fold it accordion style as shown here:

2016-01-16-21-09-48Make it as long as you like…it actually looks best when the middle is long and twisting.

Assemble the head by inserting the fin between the two pieces.  Glue in place.   Insert the sticks (I used wooden skewers) between the head pieces and tail pieces.  Insert the ends of the midsection into these pieces as shown.  Glue in place and clip to hold together until it dries.

2016-01-16-21-26-15        2016-01-16-21-26-27Add a googlie eye or draw facial features with a Sharpie marker.  Don’t forget to put features on both sides!

 

Hold the sticks at both ends to make the Dragon move.

Here’s another version of a dragon puppet:  http://www.redtedart.com/chinese-new-year-craft-dragon-puppet-free-printable/

For more activities and easy crafts to celebrate the Year of the Rooster visit:

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear/

Happy New Year!

2016-01-16-21-27-40

More Summer Fun and Games.

It only feels like summer is over.  There is still plenty of time for fun and games.  If your kids are bored or you just want them to enjoy some fun away from technology, check out these sites for some ideas:

  1.  For some old-fashioned jump rope rhymes try:

http://www.gameskidsplay.net/jump_rope_ryhmes/jump_miss_susie.htm

2.  For imaginative platy and telling stories with nature here’s a wonderful site hosted by my writer friend Katey Howes:  http://kateywrites.wordpress.com/2015…th-nature/

3.  For great summer crafts for kids of all ages:

http://www.spoonful.com/summer/summer-crafts

Here’s another site for dozens of ideas for summer or rainy days.  This site even has light sabers, salt dough dinosaurs, bubble art, weaving, and plastic flowers to name just a few.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/nataliebrown/impossibly-cool-crafts-that-will-blow-your-kids-minds?utm_term=.eodvM0BGa&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Parents%20622&utm_content=Parents%20622+CID_21d3394b54b860e27a06b21dbba3384c&utm_source=BuzzFeed%20Newsletters#.hqnXJNkVY

Other ideas:  Make ice pops by putting your favorite juice in paper cups with a popsicle or craft stick resting in each.  Freeze until firm.  Tear away the paper and enjoy.    Water balloon catch is perfect for a hot afternoon.  Bubbles provide endless hours of fun for even the youngest kids. Go on a NATURE WALK and look for things in unexpected places.  Even in your own back yard you can find nests of birds, rabbits, a butterfly chrysalis, caterpillars and the like.  Nurture the young scientists in your house and discover the wonders of the great outdoors.

What do you like to do for fun?!

 

Let in the Birds! 3 Dimensional Paper Craft

Today’s craft is inspired by all the colorful birds that are back in town thanks to spring.  It’s a simple craft that even the youngest kids can do with a bit of direction.  Everything you need is in the photo here:

Matierials for bird paper craft: colored construction paper or card stock, scissors, stapler.

Materials for bird paper craft: colored construction paper or card stock, scissors, stapler.

Cut One Inch strips of paper (11 inches or longer) from 5 assorted colors.    Place them on top of each other and staple together at one end.  This will be the birds beak.  To form the head, pull the bottom strip straight, and then gather each additional strip a bit looser than the one below it so it forms a head as shown in the photo.  Staple together.  Do the same thing to form the body, except the loops will curve downward rather than upward.  Staple together.  2015-04-11 02.07.42See photo below:  

To make the tail, cut the tail pieces into thin strips, stopping at the staple.  Curl the strips by wrapping them around the pencil.  To form feet and wings, cut one inch wide strip about 4 inches long and fringe them as shown in the photo.  Staple in place.  Roll up a small piece of paper and slide it into the head portion for an eye.  See photo below:

2015-04-11 02.13.13To hang the bird, tie sting under the mid section and under the hear portion and bring the two strings together in the middle as shown:   2015-04-11 02.17.30You can vary the materials as you like.  Try using real feathers for the wings and pipe cleaners for the feet.  Make a MOBILE of colorful birds to decorate for a party or to make a room look like spring! 

Why not bring the birds indoors and let them fly!

Origami Bunnies…1…2…3…Easy!

When I saw this beginner origami project online, I couldn’t resist posting it.  ORIGAMI is the Japanese art of paper folding.  If you haven’t already tried your hand at it because you thought it might be too difficult for young children to learn (or for some of us grown-ups…myself included), this project is a perfect place to begin.

All you need is some clean squares of paper.  The nifty video below will show you the steps to create these adorable BUNNIES.  2015-03-04 23.20.41

Just in time for spring!  They make great party favors, table decorations,  greeting cards.  HOPPY SPRING!

http://www.redtedart.com/2016/03/02/easy-origami-bunny/

Get Heart Healthy

Even though Valentine’s Day is over, it’s never a bad time to think of our hearts and keeping them healthy through exercise and activity.  Since February is AMERICAN HEART MONTH, what better way to celebrate your wonderful heart than with a HEALTHY CHALLENGE SCAVENGER HUNT.  There is no need to leave the house.  Follow the link below for a list of 40 things to scout out around the house.  You can break up into teams and see who is fastest at hunting down the items.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ActivitiesforKids/Get-Active-with-our-Healthy-Challenge-Scavenger-Hunt_UCM_312472_Article.jsp#.VsMp0kDws4B

Enjoy the challenge.  Your heart will love you for it!