My adventures, and misadventures, as I stumble around finding my place in the world.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sun Brewed Tea

The herbs have been exploding this year, which is a great problem to have.  There is nothing like fresh herbs from the garden.  I was debating what to do with some fresh spearmint, and decided that I would give sun brewed tea a try for the first time.

My mom has a glass container specifically meant for brewing tea, but you could use any glass container with a good cover.  I'm sure you can mix and match what you add, but this is what I used.

Fresh mint from the garden:
Mint flourishing in the garden
Just under 4 quarts of water, a quarter cup of honey, a splash of lemon juice and 6 black tea bags.  My preference would have been to use a freshly squeezed lemon with some of the lemon peel, but I didn't plan ahead and just used what I had on hand.  
Ready to brew, just water, honey, lemon juice, mint and 6 tea bags!
I stirred it all together to make sure that the honey was dissolved, and put it out in the sun.  As easy as that!
Placed in a nice sunny spot
It was just about 11:30 so the sun was at it's peak, and was already in the mid-80's.  So definitely a nice hot day.  After only a half hour in the sun you could already see streaks of the tea soaking through.
Already brewing after just 30 minutes!
I gave it a little stir once an hour, and let it sit in the sun for close to 4 hours.  You could probably do less, especially since it was such a hot day, but this worked out well.
4 hours later, it looks delicious!
I added some ice and poured myself a glass.  It was a sweet minty flavor, but overall is a very mild tea.  It's lovely and delicious.  I think it would be even better with a  fresh lemon wheel floating inside.  I would recommend giving it a try!
Hope you all are enjoying your summer so far!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Puppy treats, and Giveaway! *Ends May 1st, 2015*

Today I'm going to share a fun and easy recipe for a frozen dog treat.  Read to the end so that you have an opportunity to enter my Spring giveaway!

If you follow my blog, even somewhat regularly, you probably know by now that we love our dog.  He's one of the cutest out there, not that I'm biased or anything!
Just look at that handsome boy!
We do still crate him during the day while we are away.  I would love to move away from that, eventually, but for now he hasn't outgrown his puppy stage of wanting to destroy anything and everything when not being watched.  But that doesn't mean that I don't feel guilty on long days when he is stuck inside with nothing left to do but snooze.  

I try to make some frozen kongs ahead of time, for a special treat on an especially long day.  Freezing them helps make it last, and give him an added challenge.  When he was still a small pup we had a dog walker come in the middle of the day.  We would crate him in the morning, she would come around noon time and spend a half hour to an hour with him, and when she left she would give him a Kong to work on in the crate for the second half of the day.  Now that he's a year and a half he doesn't need that mid-day walk any more, but it's nice to leave him with a special treat.

I've tried all kinds of recipes, but peanut butter banana is his favorite!  I thought I would share our recipe with you.  It's an easy, and healthy, way to treat your dog!

Here is what you need:
a rubber kong or similar hollow rubber toy
Peanut Butter
Small amount of Kibble

I like to make 4 or 5 of these at the same time and freeze them all, kind of like making my lunches for the week ahead of time!  I usually use two large ones and two small ones, so this recipe makes enough to fill those 4.  The different colors symbolize the strength of the rubber, black is for strong chewers, where as the blue and pink were for puppy chewers. 

Kongs waiting to be stuffed
First I start with roughly about a Tablespoon of peanut butter, and nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds, just to soften it up.
Peanut Butter
Next I add in 1 full size banana, sliced, and mash it with a fork.
Add one sliced banana
...and mash!
It doesn't have to be terribly smooth, Cody doesn't mind some texture.  For added interest I add in about a 1/4 cup of his normal kibble.  Again, this isn't a meal replacement, so I don't add a whole lot. However, if you are planning to replace a meal with a Kong make sure to added extra kibble so that your dog is still receiving appropriate nutrients.
For added benefit I like to add a 1/4 cup of regular kibble
Finally I mix everything together, and spoon it into his Kongs.  Then I just pop them into the freezer and they are ready to go when he needs a special treat!

Cody is very food motivated, so it doesn't take much to get him excited, but this is by far one of his favorite recipes.  It's easy and quick to make, doesn't take anything extraordinary, and I feel better giving it to him than some of the pre-made pastes since I don't always know what all the ingredients are.

Now that Spring has finally arrived we can't wait to get outside with Cody!  One of our favorite things to do is take him to the park, or bring him on a hike.  Getting out and enjoying the nice weather together is simply the best.  And we all like to earn a frozen treat at the end!

Now it's YOUR turn!  I have decided to give away a $20 amazon gift card.  There are a few ways that you can enter to win!
First, you must be a follower of Simply Living, and you must leave a comment on this post letting me know your favorite thing to do in the Spring!
For bonus entries you may:
  1. Leave a comment letting me know your favorite way to give special treats to a pet
  2. Pin any photo from Simply Living onto Pinterest
  3. Share this post!
This giveaway will end on May 1st, and the winner will be picked randomly vis Rafflecopter.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easy to make Sensory Foam!

As I continue to explore sensory ideas for the kids, I came across a fluffy looking foam.  Now my Pre-kindergartners are happy as a clam with a "car wash" or baby bath activity.  So I knew that they would love this foam.  It's even safe and great for younger toddler age friends.
SO here is all I needed...a hand mixer, dish soap, and liquid water colors.  I'm sure that food coloring would work just as well, but if you haven't seen Liquid Watercolors before, check them out!  I love discount school supplies brand, but I'm sure there are others out there.
Hand mixer, dish soap, and water simple!
The fluffier you want your foam, the less water you add.  I added just a little soap to the bottom of the bowl, and added about 3 cups of water and a few drops of water color, and put the mixer on high.
Lot's of bubbles!
 Before long the foam starts to thicken up.  This is also a step that you could have the older kids help you with.  Turn it into a science and math project!  Make the measurements, and then predict what will happen to the liquid once you start mixing it together.
Getting fluffier!
I did a variety of colors, and dumped them into our larger sensory bucket.  The kids loved the rainbow effect!
Add in different tools and materials for the children to explore a variety of ways

This was ocean week, so I added some sharks and whales, and second bucket with plain water for rinsing.  We used cups, spoons, watering cans, measuring cups, funnels, and all kinds of other exploratory tools.  The kids had a blast!  It can get messy, but that's ok!  And the best part is, this was totally free!  I had all of the necessary ingredients right in my kitchen.  
Look how foamy and fluffy this looks.  The kids couldn't wait to get their hands on it!

If you decide to experiment with some sensory fun, let me know what your kids think!

Peakle Pie
Linked to I heart Naptime and creative jewish mom

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A new kind of play dough

As I've said before in other posts I work in Early Childhood.  A great way for children to learn is through the different use of their senses, so we are constantly looking for new sensory activities to try.  I saw a recipe for a new type of play dough with only two ingredients, how hard could it be?  So I decided to give it a try with my pre-kindergarteners.  I can honestly say that this is one of the absolute best home-made play dough recipes I have found.  It is incredibly soft, easy, and mess free.
Two simple ingredients, hair conditioner and corn starch.  How easy is that!  And the best part is that it turns out the best with the cheap $1 conditioner, and smells amazing!  
Two basic ingredients for a simple play dough
For the most part I don't use real measurements, it ends up being the whole bottle of conditioner and the whole box of corn starch.  This is a great opportunity to let the kids help out and practice using measurement tools like measuring cups.
Added math lesson, measuring cups!

Turn it into science!  What happens when you mix a dry powered with a wet liquid?
So, dump them all together...and mix!
Kids will love getting their hands dirty!
This is another great sensory lesson for kids.  How does it feel as you are mixing it together?  What happens when you mix a dry solid with wet conditioner?  What are some words you can use to describe what you feel?  How about what you smell?
The end result is the silky soft play dough.  You can mold it, roll it, and shape it.  It has the added benefit of being incredibly hydrating for you hands, and smells great!  Here are some pictures of what we were able to do:
Cutting the play dough 
Feel how soft it is!
We like to roll it out nice and smooth
You can easily shape and mold it
All kinds of different shapes, we can use cookie cutters and play dough tools
As you can see it is very smooth and easy to shape.  For the most part it is pretty mess free, no more mess than normal play dough would create.  If you are looking for a fun, cheap and easy sensory activity I would strongly encourage you to give this conditioner play dough a try.  You won't be sorry!  I love how much control the kids can take when following this basic recipe, and they are entertained for hours with the end result.  Two thumbs up!

Participating in:
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and and No time for Flashcards andpeaklepie

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