Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I came across this video clip today. I thought I would post it because many of my readers have no familiarity with Kazakhstan, the country where my eldest was born. I just feel the tears come to my eyes when I watch this and think about those 9 weeks. This advertisement is enough to make me want to sell everything we own and move to Kazakhstan. Such an amazing place!
Posted by CamelsNDragons at 8:35 PM
Monday, March 18, 2013
March 21st is Nauryz.
Let's cook and create with our kids!
It is the time of year when new baby animals are born,
Chicks are cuddled by children,
Honey Bees take cleansing flights,
Shoots struggle to break through the earth,
And apple blossoms appear on the trees.
A celebration of the end of Winter's isolation and the appearance of Spring with all that it symbolizes. Birth, Hope, Growth and New Beginnings. Like the animals around us we bring forth, clean, and gather once again with our community. We prepare and check in with our environment to insure the survival of future generations of children.
Apples were first cultivated in Kazakhstan. So in honor of this countries gift to the world we focused solely on this simple fruit for our family's version of the holiday this year.
An apple garland that even a preschooler can help make.
Cut an apple in half making sure the cut surface is as flat and level as possible.
Coat the cut surface with a thin layer of paint.
Press your "stamp"onto a piece of white paper.
Add details like a stem and seeds.
Cut out the apple shape.
Punch out two holes.
String onto a length of pretty ribbon.
Apple napkin ring
Use a cookie cutter to cut an apple shape from air dry clay.
Make a leaf and attach it to the stem.
Punch a hole in the center with the end of a pencil.
Let dry overnight.
Knot the center of and thread both ends of a pipe cleaner into the hole and twist around your napkin.
Apple Sun Catcher
Coat the clear lid of a takeout container with glue.
Cut about 2 dozen small squares of tissue paper.
Layer the squares on top of the glue.
When dry punch a hole in the top.
Insert and twist a pipe cleaner to make the stem, create and glue on the leaf.
Tape to a window.
Apple tree place card for the table
Make a treetop template
Fold a piece of construction paper in half.
Place your template as shown above and trace the shape.
Cut out as shown above.
Leave about an inch uncut along the fold at the top.
Draw on some branches.
Cut out about 2 dozen small squares from tissue paper.
Place the end of a pencil eraser in the center of one square and crush the paper around it to form a flower bud. Glue it on to the tree. Make and glue more buds.
Write the name of your guest on a toliet paper tube.
Cut slits in the top of your tube.
Insert your tree top into the trunk.
Every holiday needs a homemade present if you have a child.
Kazakh sewing cards-girl in traditional dress, camel, yurt.
I used colored Sharpie markers to trace simple shapes onto the plastic mesh used for cross stitch.
The colored thread with plastic on the ends found in bead stringing kits is perfect for small hands to use.
The thread is used to match with and color code the design so that the child knows how to create the image independently.
I saved dessert for last.
Walnut Filled Apples (a traditional Uzbek recipe)
Peel and core four apples
Cut out a good portion of the center of each apple without puncturing the bottom
Place 1/2 tsp of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of honey in each apple
Place in a steamer and cook for twenty minutes
Chop 1/2 cup of walnuts
Soften in hot water 1/3 cup of dried currants. Remove from liquid and set aside.
Mix currants and nuts with 2 TBSP of sugar, 1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp of ground star anise.
Take the hot apples out of the steamer.
Remove some liquid from each apple making sure to leave them only half full.
Stuff and fill to the top with the nut and currant mixture.
Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.
If you want a more detailed explanation about the holiday of Nauryz you can click on the label marked "Nauryz" on my sidebar. There you will find all the past posts that discuss how it is traditionally celebrated in Central Asia. You can also find more recipes under the label "Silk Road Recipes". Our family wishes you all the best for the seasons to come and I hope you enjoyed this post.
Posted by CamelsNDragons at 10:44 PM
Friday, February 8, 2013
Happy Chinese New Year!
Dressed in her New Year's Outfit and sporting her big "owie"
I have always celebrated Chinese New Year but this year it took on a special significance since we now have our own Chinese Empress at home. You may not have any Chinese family members but this holiday is so much fun for children that you might want to try a few traditions out and learn about a new culture.
Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar. It can vary from the end of January beginning of February depending on the year. For 2012 the date falls on February 10th.
Examples of typical Chinese family housing-apartments (background), townhouses (middle), farm with fields (foreground)
What is Chinese New Year? Well only the biggest holiday in most of Asia. EVERYBODY takes two weeks off from work, often traveling hundreds of miles back to their "home", to celebrate with family and community. It is a time to honor the coming of spring and reunion with those we love. All traces of the old year are removed as homes are cleaned and repaired, debts paid, relationships mended, new clothes bought, and there are lots of very special traditions like.....
The Red and Gold Door Banner
This tradition is probably as old as paper and writing in China.
Our family banner was made of joss, scrapbook and origami papers.
I carved the backside of styrofoam meat trays with pencils.
I rolled on black acrylic paint.
I stamped the symbols on the paper.
Dragons, horoscope animals, melons, bats, butterflies, the kitchen god and chubby toddlers are all commom symbols found on door banners. Chinese characters are done in caligraphy for good luck and
blessings in the new year.
Door Banners stay up all year only to be replaced by new ones when the next New Year comes.
are given out as gifts especially to children. They contain real or chocolate coins and are thought to bring good luck and prosperity to the person who receives them. They are also used to "feed" the lion and dragon dancers.
I picked these firecracker decorations up on my trip to China. They came in handy since we had a ban on firecrackers in our city this year. Normally we would have set off real ones near our front door.You can make your own string of firecrackers with painted and decorated toliet paper tubes strung together. Hundreds of firecrackers go off in January or February in Asia to scare away evil spirits and welcome the
.....dragon and lion dancers.
Drums, cymbals and the Buddha leads a team of martial arts practitioners dressed in costume through a loud,colorful, parade down all the streets in a community. The dragon can be up to 40 feet long and require several people to lift and move gracefully.
I also bought this mini lion in China so the girls could do their own lion dances.
Maybe snakes are more to your taste for a dance partner.
Using glasses or jars- trace and then cut out lots of circles in a variety of sizes
Create scales by coating bubble wrap in gold paint and then pressing it onto the paper
Here is the head and tale.
Glue the head, tail, and spinal segments on a long piece of ribbon.
Attach 3-4 dowels or sticks to the ribbon so that the snake can be carried by several children and made to dance.
We made lots of snakes
since it is this animal's year on the Chinese horoscope.
This one is made from red and gold paint, paper, and egg cartons
This one is made from cardboard toliet paper tubes.
By cutting the ends into triangles and attaching overlapping tubes together with brads, you can make the sections articulate and your snake slither along.
are considered to be just as lucky for the New Year as the color red. A guest or traveling family member might grab a few in the street market as a gift for the hostess. Most families will have a least one special bowl on hand just for goldfish.
Our goldfish was made by melting shaved crayons between two sheets of wax paper to make a sun and wind catcher.
Here is the template I used to cut the fish shape after an iron was used to melt the wax paper together.
I used tissue paper to make the lips and fins.
are the most popular dish served on the first day of the New Year. It is considered very lucky to stay up until midnight and have dumplings as the first thing you eat.
Dumplings with Peanut Sauce Recipe
In a large pan saute
2 -4 cups of ground meat of your choice (beef, pork, turkey or vegetarian protein like Korn)
1 bunch of green onion finely chopped
3 gloves of garlic finely chopped
1 inch of fresh ginger finely chopped
1tsp of Chinese Five Spice (if you can find it)
Salt to taste
2-4 cups of napa cabbage
1/4 -1/2 cup of herbs of your choice (basil,mint,cilantro, etc.)
Mix in what you set aside
You could also add mushrooms, bean sprouts and other vegetables
How to shape the dumplings
Take a circle of wonton or gyoza skin (you will need to buy 2-3 packages)
Lightly wet the entire circle with water
Place 1 TBSP of filling in the middle
Fold into a half moon shape, pinch the edges together tightly, and pleat.
Boil or steam until done. Steamed dumplings are less likely to fall apart
Children love shape dumplings!
This recipe makes about 100 dumplings which is just right for a family of four.
Peanut Dipping Sauce
In a food processor combine
1 cup of chunky peanut butter
2 TBSP of soy sauce
2 TBSP of Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar Dressing
1 TBSP of Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP of sugar
2 TBSP of toasted sesame oil
1 TBSP of fresh minced ginger
2 minced garlic gloves
1 tsp of red chile flakes
Blend until smooth adding a small amount of water to thin into desired consistency
Here are some great books for reference and fun reading
Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz
Holidays and Festivals-Chinese New Year by Nancy Dickmann
A New Year's Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong
Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan
A Gift by Yong Chen
You can find all of these at the library or through the inter-library loan system
The New Year holiday ends on the last day with the Lantern Festival.
On the 15 day of the first moon which is actually the first full moon of the year, everybody takes to the streets for a big party full of fun and entertainment. Lanterns can be made of any kind of material from paper to glass. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Imagine hundreds of these lighting up the streets for one special night.
Fold a piece of red paper in half.
Starting at the fold, mark and measure some lines about one inch apart.
Leave 1-2 inches of space at the edge of the paper
A large sheet of scrapbook paper seems to be the best size and is more sturdy than construction paper.
Cut along all of your lines.
Reverse you paper so your marks don't show.
Roll your paper into a cylinder.
Staple, tape, or glue both edges to form a tube.
Push the ends together to get the middle to flair out along the folds.
Decorate with streamers or tassels.
Punch two holes at the top.
Hang with pipe cleaner or string.
Here is another lantern style that is quick and easy to make.
Cut a large circle from scrapbook paper.
Use stamps and gold ink to decorate.
Use a plate to draw some curved lines to create the illusion of it being round and three dimentional.
Using glue add some gold rectangles on the top and bottom.
Punch two holes in the top rectangle.
Thread a string or pipe cleaner into the holes for hanging.
This would look so pretty as several lanterns hung together in a long line.
Happy New Year. May it be full of health, happiness, and prosperity for you and your family!
(I will be adding a few more photos to this post as our family celebrates over the next few days)
Posted by CamelsNDragons at 9:03 PM
Sunday, November 18, 2012
This Is Why I Homeschool
How many five year olds would be excited to play with a homemade doll that has a spoon for a head and looks like a Pilgrim instead of a TV character? What a perfect craft activity to do with my eldest daughter. Each step allowed us to talk about the different types and purposes of the various articles of clothing that women and girls wore long ago.
Pilgrims brought very little with them to America. If it was not a tool or needed for food it was left behind.
Children would have made their own toys, with what little free time they had, from any materials not needed for something else. These would have been quite crude looking and dependent on a child's imagination to give them life.
Now for a very easy doll for any little girl to make. There is very little sewing involved and she can do most of the cutting and assembly with a little adult help. You probably have many of the supplies needed already at home. Constructing the doll in this way allows the child to easily remove the clothes and redress the doll later on. (a bit like putting together a puzzle)
I bought a package of spoons at the dollar store and we drew faces on them with magic markers. I suggest you use waterproof ones.
Next I took a green branch and angled the ends to make hands.
I cut a notch in the center to add more stability for the "body" .
Add glue to the notch and set the spoon on it.
Let it dry and tie it down with string for added strength.
Make hair from yarn and glue it to the spoon.
Using an old pillow case I cut a rectangle. Really it is two rectangles attached at the top where there was a fold in the fabric. Cut a slit in the fold and slip it over the spoon. Gather it around the arms and use a strip of fabric to tie it and make a waste. Pull out a bit of the fabric to make sleeves.
Cut a rectangle from felt. Cut two slits in it for armholes. Slip it over the arms with the opening towards the back.
Cut two large rectangles from felt, one slightly bigger than the other. Place one on top of the other and line the edges up. Punch a line of small holes across the top and through both layers of felt. Allow your child to thread a ribbon through the holes as if sewing with a large needle. Pull both ends of the ribbon to cinch tight and gather the top into folds. This forms the waist of the skirt.
Place this just over the bodice and wrap the ribbon twice around the waist before tying a bow. Cut the ends of ribbon shorter if you wish.
Despite any images you have seen of pilgrims, they did not dress all in black like Puritans. Clothes were dyed with plants in all manner of bright or deep earth tones. Clothes were layered depending on the season and rarely washed like laundry.
Cut a square from the pillow case and glue a small strip of ribbon to the top. Tie it around the waist.
Cut a square from the pillow case and glue a small strip of ribbon to the top. Tie it around the waist.
Cut a triangle from felt. Wrap it around the shoulders of the doll and sew the ends together with one small stitch.
Using part of the pillow case with a seam/folded edge cut a double triangle.
Fold the bottom corner of the triangle up and tack down with one small stitch. This will be placed and against the hair. Glue the other two corners down along the side of the face. When dry bring the two new corners back behind the head and tack down with a small knot to form the traditional Pilgrim cap.
The Cape/Cloak and Pocket
Cut a semi-circle from felt and glue a piece of ribbon along the straight edge.
Tie around the neck of the doll when the glue has dried.
The pocket is just a square of fabric with a cotton ball inside. Gather the fabric to form a bag and tie the top with a piece of ribbon. Use a longer piece of ribbon to form the strap.
Your doll is done!
We Made A Cranberry Tart
Cranberries were one of the few fruits, other than berries, native to the New World. They are high in nutrition and have medicinal qualities that would have been crucial to a healthy diet. Pilgrims would have used them to make tarts and preserves.
Start with a store bought premade pie crust (you are cooking with little kids right?)
Place it in a pie or tart pan, pinch or form the edges if necessary.
Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to create holes for the steam to escape and prevent bubbles.
Pre-bake the crust for 15 minutes at 350 degrees
Remove and add filling.
3-4 cups of clean and sorted cranberries (basically one small package)
1 cup of sugar
1TBSP of flour
Coarsely grated rind of one orange ( The Pilgrims would have used marmalade brought from England)
1/4 cup of fresh orange juice
Pinch of salt
1 tsp of melted butter
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and pour into your pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until the filling is bubbling and set.
As the filling cools it will thicken
We Tried to Make Beeswax Soap..
but it turned out more like salve for washing hands because I tried to avoid using beef tallow and lye by using a whole list of oils. Beeswax would have been available in the form of recycled candles from England. I felt that using melted glycerin blocks for soap making would have been totally cheating and too easy on my part. I wanted my girls to see that making soap from scratch is complicated (yes it can result in failure if the chemistry is not right).
We Tried to Make Horehound Cough Drops...
but ended up with a lovely cough syrup instead. Pilgrims would have brought seeds from Europe to grow the medicinal plants they were familiar with. They also would have learned about native medicinal plants from the American Indians. With few doctors in the New World, women needed to know how to provide medical care in their communities. At least I finally did something with the horehound that I have been growing for 20 years. The girls liked the taste enough that it might actually get used this winter.
The Girls Helped Me To Make A Seafood Chowder
Chopping vegetable is a great activity to build strength and dexterity in little hands.
2 large potatoes
2 large carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 large onion
1 red bell peper
2 cloves of garlic
1 leak white and green parts
1 jalepeno pepper
1 inch chunk of ginger root
Dump in a crock pot and add
5 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 tsp of ground coriander seed
1 tsp of paprika
1 splash of liquid smoke
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp of oregano
1/2 tsp of thyme
3/4 cup of quinoa
Cook on high for two hours and add
1 cup of chopped green beans
1 small package of frozen corn
Whatever amount of seafood you prefer
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook for two more hours
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve
Obviously this is not a traditional Pilgrim recipe (which probably would not have been very tasty). BUT seafood chowders made of vegetables, shellfish, eel, wild onions and green herbs were introduced to the Pilgrims by the American Indians. It was an important combination when other types of foods were scarce. Seafood chowders got the Pilgrims through those first two years in the New World. They were just as present at that first Thanksgiving as the wild turkey. Plus how else would my kids get to learn about mussles as a food source, not to mention see what bivalves look like inside.
Here is my eldest picking herbs in the garden. I created her Pilgrim costume from pillow cases and a skirt from my closet.
And Finally The Mayflower!
(because no voyage to the New World could be complete without it)
I made some paper templates that were inspired from some I saw in a book.
(yes, one of these days I might have the time to figure out a way to make all of my paper patterns designed for this blog downloadable for my readers to use)
I traced them onto scrapbook paper and cut them out.
Made some sails with paper and bamboo skewers
Assembled the ship with glue and tape
Gave the girls a bit of a history and geography lesson
In my attempt to make history more alive and real to the girls I bought these period doll clothes. There is a professional seamstress on Ebay who sews high quality and cheap Colonial clothes for 18 inch dolls (our is a Madame Alexander). This is only a simple work dress but her dresses for tea and parties are stunning. We leave in a few days for a very special "school" field trip and vacation. I thought the doll needed to dress for the occasion. My eldest is so into aspects of Colonial life since I came up with this idea and have been reading bits and pieces of the American Girl books (Felicity) to her. I can't wait to post photographs of our special homeschool day as soon as we return. Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings to your family this week-CND