Quick teacher gift

1 07 2010

The past month has been a blur!  We came back from vacation, and all of a sudden, I realized it was the last week of preschool for BB!  I had wanted to make some nice teacher appreciation gifts, but it’s hard to do when you realize THE DAY BEFORE that school is almost over.  I had to make something with what we had in the house, and it had to be quick!  When I was a teacher I liked food gifts (this led me to make chocolate covered pretzels at Christmas time for BB’s teachers…that was a fiasco I did not want to repeat!), and I thought I would do something a little more original than cookies, so I made granola.  BB helped me make it, using our regular recipe with a few tweaks.  Because he is my little monkey, I called it “Little monkey Granola”, and included banana chips and other tropical things. 

Little Monkey Granola

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • up to 3 cups nuts and other mix-ins
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Mix together oats and nuts (I used about 1 cup sunflower seeds and 1 cup cashews).  Then, mix the liquids: oil, honey, extracts, and cinnamon.  Spread in a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes at 300 F.  Take out and stir to keep the edges from getting overcooked—try to spread the middle stuff to the edges and the edge stuff to the middle.  After another 5 minutes, I pulled it out and added 1 cup of chopped banana chips and 1/2 cup coconut.  Put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.  That’s it!  If you smoosh it down with a spoon before it cools, you will get some bigger clumps. 

My next dilemma… how to package it?  I was going to make bags out of the cellophane I had from Christmas (from the pretzel debacle), but when I brought it out from storage it had DEAD SPIDERS in it!  Eeeeeeewwwwww!  So I raided my stash of canning jars, figuring that if I can barely get dinner on the table these days I will not be doing much canning this year.  Here’s the final result:


The tags were a simple watercolor resist, so that was a fun project with BB also.  I wrote “thanks!” on watercolor paper, over and over, because he has lots of teachers, in white crayon, then invited him to paint away with watercolors.  It was not the best gift anyone ever made, but it was do-able in the VERY short amount of time I had!  To top it off, I made a little label for the top so they would hopefully understand the banana granola a little better:


Then we’ve been sick since school let out.  Fun!  I try to work on some projects, but it has been slow going.  I think we are all on the mend and hopefully have some more crafts to post in the not-too-too-distant future!

Magical mystery paintings with watercolors

10 03 2010

Well, *I* think it looks like Elmo.

We did this activity a while back, and I don’t remember now where the inspiration came from.  It was a really simple and fun craft that met my most important criterion: easy to clean up.  I made the rookie mistake of letting big brother color with markers, so-called “washable” markers, I might add, and the marks are still on the kitchen table–nothing gets them out.  Same with food coloring… those food coloring based paints we did were a lot of fun to play with, but you have to wipe them up ASAP to prevent stains.  Well, not so with watercolors.  These are a little trickier than regular paint to use, but so worth it in the end.

What I did beforehand was draw a picture on a sheet of paper using a white crayon.  (Funny story–BB always tells me when he colors with his white crayon that it’s not working… maybe it needs batteries.  Haha!  The minds of children.  In his world, I think everything runs on batteries, so needing new batteries is the answer to everything.)  My drawing skills leave a lot to be desired, but I did my best.  The drawing is essentially invisible until he colors over it with the watercolors, then the drawing shows up as white lines.  I tried to draw Elmo, but he didn’t recognize it.  I did a Curious George drawing that I thought was darn good, and he thought it was “ummm, a bulldozer?”  To be fair, that was a full-page sized drawing, and he didn’t color the whole page, so it was hard to tell.  I think little drawings worked best.

Flowers... it doesn't get simpler than that.

Flowers... it doesn't get simpler than that.

I had to repeat a few times, “Water, then paint, then paper,” and sometimes he just painted the paper with water, but once he got the hang of it, he really went to town.  I think soon we’ll be able to wallpaper our house in his paintings, and I have to admit I feel a little bad about the sheer quantity of paper we go though, but I can’t think of another way to make paintings, so tree-killing it is.  It’s ironic because at the moment, his favorite story is “The Lorax”, and here we are, “more paper (15 seconds elapse)…more paper (15 more seconds)… more paper…”, you get the idea.  So, if you don’t mind burning though a lot of paper, this is a fun activity; we both enjoyed it.  I liked drawing pictures as much as he liked revealing them.  The pictures here aren’t the best, but if you look closely, you can see the white drawings that appear magically when the paper is painted.  The flowers he was able to recognize right away… maybe I have some artistic talent after all, haha!