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

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sweet, Sour, and Crunchy Chicken Drumsticks

Cooking for Kids

The little ones I cook dinner for love chicken drumsticks. I marinated these drumsticks in the sweet and sour sauce for a few hours then rolled them in the breadcrumbs and started baking them 45-minutes before dinner was served. Serving mashed potatoes and steamed green beans with the drumsticks make a complete meal. I adapted the recipe from

You Will Need:

8 drumsticks, skin removed
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon each soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups soft fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

What to Do:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
2. Combine lemon juice, sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small pan; simmer 5 minutes.
3. Combine breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl or pan.
4. Coat drumsticks in the cooked mixture and then roll in breadcrumb mixture and place on wire rack in roasting pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes until drumsticks are thoroughly cooked.


Drumstick Recipe
Photos by Stephanie Felzenberg

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Should Kids Be Allowed to Use their Smartphones When Doing Homework?

MSN's Best Homework Apps for Kids

Kids have access to technology today unlike anything I had when I was in school. Not only do they have access to the Internet, every charge over 7-years-old that I care for has a smartphone.

I don't think students should be allowed to rely on technology to help them figure out grammar or answers to their math or Spanish questions when doing homework. In fact, I typically take the kids' iPhones away from them when doing homework. But, MSN Living listed the best homework apps for kids and I do see the value of being able to store Word documents on their phones using the Documents To Go  or having a dictionary and thesaurus from on their smartphones, especially when they have to do homework while on the go (while in the car or while waiting for their sister to finish Soccer practice). Here is the list of best homework apps for kids by MSN Living.

One of the most downloaded homework-helper apps, MyHomework is a simple planner with an easy-to-use design that helps students keep projects, homework, tests and class schedules organized.

Study Aid
Flash cards for the 21st century student, Study Aid makes memorizing and studying a snap with easy swiping notes that can hold questions and answers, as well as vocabulary words and math formulas.

This planner and organizing app is syncable across all iCloud devices, which makes using iPhones, computers and iPads to manage homework incredibly simple and perfect for parent/child reviewing.

A great tool for older students in high school and college, Assignments helps sort due dates for papers and projects across all courses as well as by each individual class. The optional recording notes for each assignment helps keep track of specific details and personal notes.

Documents To Go
This app is ideal for families who travel often or spend lots of time in the car shuttling from baseball to ballet. Your kids can copy their Word docs and use them across all cloud devices (in the premium app), which makes working on book reports and research papers a lot more flexible. It's also great for notes and study guides.

Dictionary and Thesaurus's apps help make reference work easy as pie. Whether your second grader is working on vocabulary words or your high school sophomore is working on a paper about Shakespeare, the wealth of information at your fingertips with this app makes quick work of word research.

A truly comprehensive homework and study solution, Slader is a crowd-sourced app developed by students, for students. High school and college students will gain access to screenshots of thousands of math and science equations and problems, complete with comments which help answer questions.

Grammar Guide
From their first book report to their last term paper, Grammar Guide offers a virtual tutor for all things punctuation, spelling, sentence structure and more.

Parents whose algebra has been long forgotten will love this app, which helps students master calculations and equations with innovative techniques.

With push notifications to help keep them on track and a fun, easy-to-navigate design, this app helps keep track of assignments, grades and more. Another great feature is the email function, which sends all the data in the app to your inbox with one click.

MSN Living 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Paper Bag Puppets

Creative Projects to Do With Kids

Every pre-school and early elementary school-aged child I have ever cared for loves puppets. Making simple paper bag puppets allows kids to practice coloring, cutting, and pasting. I like cutting out shapes from colored construction paper for young kids to make animals, princesses, and princes but it's even easier to print out paper bag puppet templates online. It took me less than half an hour to print out templates and gather the supplies to make the puppets and less than 15-minutes for the four-year-old I care for to make the three puppets pictured above. My favorite site for paper bag puppet templates is 

All You Need:

Small Paper Lunch Bags
Colored Construction Paper or Printer Paper
Safety Scissors
Crayons or Markers (optional)
Yarn, pom poms, sequins, glitter, felt (optional)

What to Do:

1. Cut out circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles from colored construction paper for kids to use or print out paper bag puppet templates.

2. Let the kids color the shapes or templates any way the want to.

3. If using templates from online help younger kids cut out the shapes while allowing older children to do it themselves.

4. Have the kids paste the shapes to the paper bags. The facial features go on the top of the flap, while put the inside of the mouth or bottom of chin under the paper bag flap. Also feel free to let older kids use yarn, pom poms, sequins, glitter, felt, or any other material to decorate the puppets if they want to.

5. Let the kids imaginations run wild while playing with their homemade puppets.


1. Panda paper bag puppet template 
2. Pig paper bag puppet template
3. Photos by Stephanie Felzenberg