Friday, April 18, 2014

Easy Beef and Barley Soup

Cooking for Kids

Quick-cooking barley and sirloin help get this beef and barley soup on the table in a snap—and it doubles easily. If leftovers get too thick in the fridge, add a little broth when you reheat it. Here's how to make this easy beef and barley soup from

You Will Need:

8 ounces sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar

What to Do:

1. Sprinkle steak with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the steak and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onion and celery to the pot and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add carrot and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add tomato paste and thyme and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are coated with the tomato paste and are beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add barley, broth, water, salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juice to the pot and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vinegar to taste.


Recipe from eatingwell,com
Photo by Stephanie Felzenberg

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Paper Airlplane

Boredom Buster

It only takes about one-minute to make make a paper airplane and it's a great way to give bored kids something to do. Making paper airplanes teaches kids attention to detail, since the more expertly they fold the paper, the better it flies. Here's a super simple way to make a quick paper airplane out of construction paper. Of course you can let the kids decorate the paper before folding in into an airplane as well.

What You Need:

Construction Paper
Crayons or Markers to Decorate Airplane (optional)

What to Do:

1. Fold a piece of construction paper in half. Fold the two corners at the top to the middle center line to make a triangle at the top. (Figure A)
2. Fold the paper in half again (Figure B) then fold each side down to the center (Figure C).
3. Fold down the sides again and you have just made the wings which should be about 4 to 5 inches across at the widest point. Put a small piece of tape across the top of the wings to keep them from separating. (Figure D)


365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do with Your Child (365 Activities):

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Do Your Thoughts Help or Hinder You?

Changing the Way You Talk to Yourself Will Help you Succeed at Work

The way you look at a situation dramatically affects your attitude. Have you ever stopped to listen to the way you talk to yourself? While working, have you ever said to yourself, "I don't get paid for this kind of abuse!"? How does such a thought affect your attitude and your behavior? Do your thoughts help or hinder you?

In the book, Dealing with People You Can't Stand, Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner explain that just as what you think has an effect on what you say, so does what you say to yourself influence what you think. When you change the way you talk to yourself about a problem, you change the way you think about it at the same time.

The authors recommend that you take charge over the things you say to yourself. Become conscious of the things you tell yourself and substitute positive, supportive thoughts for negative ones. As you listen to your internal dialogue, make sure that your language helps you to get where you want to go.

Affirmations are positive statements of a desired outcome or goal. They are usually short, believable and focused. By repeating them over and over again, you will become happier and more successful.

You must learn to speak purposefully to yourself to change your attitude for the better. You can develop a few quick-draw mental comments that help you to keep your sense of humor and perspective around difficulties. Here are some great things to say to yourself:

"When I believe in myself, so do others."
"I am passionate about my career."
"I am a great influence on the kids."
"It's going to be a great day."
"At work, my mind is focused and I have clarity in all that I do."
"I am doing a great job."
"I can accomplish anything I set my mind to."
"My work is deeply fulfilling."
"Any experience I can learn from is a good one."
"I can become flexible."
"Anything is possible."
"This used to bother me, not anymore!"
"I am proud of myself."
"I am making a difference."
"I am happy and grateful."
"I have no regrets."
"I love doing a great job."
"My work fulfils and enriches me."
"I am doing a great job at helping raise happy, loving, strong, healthy, and successful children."
"I am an expert in childcare."
"I am a great nanny."

Also remember, an occasional attitude adjustment frees you from the stress and leads to success as you bring out the best in people at their worst.


Dealing with People You Can't Stand, Revised and Expanded Third Edition: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Novels Both Boys and Girls Love

photo from
Weekly Trip to the Library

I make a very conscious effort to allow the kids in my care to play with any toy they want to and to avoid creating strict gender roles. I want the girls to be independent and strong and encourage them to play sports. I want to encourage the boys to be loving and friendly and willing to play with dolls and with housekeeping toys as well. Despite my determined efforts, the boys and girls I care for often seem to be instinctively drawn to gender specific toys, games, and even books.

See article at

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spinach Steak Pinwheels

Cooking for Kids

With the exception of very spicy foods, when I feed the kids I care for the same food that I make for their parents I have found that they have surprisingly sophisticated palates. Instead of offering the kids a separate meal of frozen, processed chicken nuggets and fries try serving them the same dishes you or the parents eat. You may be surprised that they actually like the same foods. These Spinach Steak Pinwheels are a perfect example of a meal my charges' enjoyed as much as their parents. Here's how to make them:

You Will Need:

1 beef flank steak (1-1/2 pounds)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
Dash each salt and pepper

What to Do:

1. Cut steak horizontally from a long side to within 1/2 in. of opposite side. Open meat so it lies flat; cover with plastic wrap. Flatten to 1/4-in. thickness. Remove plastic.

2. In a small bowl, combine the spinach, cheese and sour cream; spread over steak to within 1/2 in. of edges. With the grain of the meat going from left to right, roll up jelly-roll style. Slice beef across the grain into eight slices.

3. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Broil 4-6 in. from the heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 145°; medium, 160°; well-done, 170°).

Yield: 4 servings. Nutritional Facts: 2 pinwheels equals 320 calories, 16 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 96 mg cholesterol, 271 mg sodium.


Recipe from Taste of Home
Photos by Stephanie Felzenberg