Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Announcing our January Winners....

 Congratulations to Ms. Shell and Frost Flower, our Winners for our January Giveaway!

Please email me to arrange a pick up on your Artburn kit!  I will be back tomorrow to Announce our Give Away for February.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Best Chocolate Cake Ever!

As promised and a little late to this space is the recipe for the chocolate cake that I served up at our last book club meeting.  It really is the best chocolate cake ever!  The recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa at Home.  I love her cook books and just so you know, there is nothing low cal about this cake.  My thought is, life is way to short to eat low cal anything.  Besides, most of the time if you read the ingredient list it is full of artificial sugar substitutes and other yucky stuff.  So if your going for it, Go Big or go home!


  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Morning Market Find

 My weekend starts with a trip to the Seaport Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.  We are lucky that we can slip out for an hour together and leave our eldest in charge.  It feels like we waited forever for that gift!  He is amazing with his sister and they have a snuggle in our bed and watch cartoons and place their order with us before we leave.  He always wants two apple turnovers from Juliens and she always wants a cupcake!  Yup, I let her have that for breakfast because life is too short and I myself have been know to have a cupcake for breakfast from time to time.  So, what's good for the goose, is good for the gander as they say.
 Today as we got our coffee from Laughing Whale and walked through the venders we stopped at Good Natured.  They have everything, from magic wands to, small felting kits and wool necklaces and bracelets.  I could buy everything they have and still want more!  Today though, there was one item I just had to have.

I could not take my eyes off the inuit person on wood with a fish on line.  So completely beautiful and without hesitation I bought it.  You know where it is going right?  I am beside myself to get to work and add him to our nature inspired scene of the Arctic.  I know the children will love this addition.  I love how that space inspires such imaginative play.  They are so gentle with that space.  

If your at the market stop by and check out Good Natured.  They have lovely gifts for children and grown ups.  Happy Saturday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mmmmmm Pulled Pork on a Bun

Yesterday, we made pulled pork on a bun for lunch and it was such a big hit!  We went through two large pork shoulder roasts from Getaway Farm.  I made well over 90 buns with pork for lunch and all of it went.  That is 30 times three!  Yes some children had three or four for lunch.  To be fair they were tiny picnic buns because children eat smaller portions and have smaller mouths and hands.  I knew if we were to be successful with this new addition it would have to be well put together and not sloppy.  I do not really have a recipe for this.  All I did was sear the roast with olive oil and garlic and salt and pepper on all sides.  Next I placed them in my crock pot at about 10:00 P.M. on the lowest setting and added some Maple bbq sauce and Maple Syrup.  I didn't add anything more.  Children are funny and when the flavours are to complex the children won't eat it.  The meat was so tender and so good.  Probably best lunch ever at Maple Tree!  I think we will try a roast of beef this way next.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Everywhere Dragons

 We've been talking about and crafting for Chinese New Year.  This is the year of the dragon and we made these super cute dragon masks.  I found the template at Skip to My Lou and printed them off.  We had the children use water colour paints at the art table to decorate them and we added feathers and attached them with pipe cleaners.
Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Whales are Calling....

 Can you hear them?  The whales, seals and walrus are calling to us.  We are super lucky to have a couple of parents who work in the bio science field.  They were able to share with us some marine mammal sounds of the arctic.  I took the sounds and put them on an ipod and set up a listening centre.

I also, found pictures using google images and did some write ups for the teachers on the back of each photo for reference and should the children have questions about the marine mammals.

Wow, they love it and really I'm not surprised.  So much fun to see and listen and imagine what it is like under the water.

The mammals in our book and on our ipod are:
Ribbon Seal
Breaded Seal
Beluga Whale
Gray Whale
Bowhead Whale
Humpback whale
Killer Wale

I had my handy husband, load the same picture onto the ipod so the children could easily find the right picture to correspond with the book I made.

As an extension today, we will be doing yoga and being these marine mammals using these very sounds.  Thank you Nina and Julien, this is such a great gift!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Full of Beans

This was todays lunch.  I thought I would post a picture and where I got the recipe.  The food is always a big hit at the school and today was no exception.  We will make it again.  The only thing you can't see is that I added corn to the mix after the fact.  I made this at my home as I was home for part of the morning with a sick girl.  Did you know that it is easier to digest beans if they are served with corn?  I think the next time we make this we will turn it into a burrito with grated cheddar and sour cream and salsa!  The recipe is super easy and very tasty I picked it up from Unplugged Sunday.  The recipe called for pinto beans but I used kidney beans as they were more readily available.  I soaked the beans over night and changed the water and boiled them for about 11/2 hours early this morning.  Did I also mention that we served this with Milkshakes today?  Yup, I lost my head today and we used up some birthday ice cream we had  in the freezer.  Your children really loved milkshakes and beans!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Work = Busy Bees

It is busy in our classroom right now.  Everyone seems to have a purpose and is quietly going about their business.  One of the teachers said to me, "it is so quiet, it must be all that eating going on at the practical life shelf this week".  True enough, there is a lot of good food being consumed this week.  It is funny to watch everyone get excited about peeling and slicing up a hard boiled egg to eat!  One little boy had to bring his mom to the shelf to show her.  Monday morning we went through a dozen eggs!  I've had to put a limit on it.  It gets crazy expensive when your buying the free range organic kind.
mmmmmmm eggs are a good source of protein and fun to peel!
The eggs are nice and fresh.  You can tell a fresh egg from an old egg as fresh eggs are really hard to peel as you can see from this picture.  Fun, Fun, Fun.

Because there was such impatience waiting to get to the egg work we had to set up apple slicing as well.  I have to say it really does encourage good food choices and eating habits but also the follow through with clean up has been well received also.  When the children are done with their work, the tray must be washed at the sink counter and set back up for the next child.  The care taken to clean and put it all back really is something to see!
An Apple A day makes this little girl very happy and full!

Hands down I think making freshly squeezed orange juice is my favourite piece of work this time of the year.  Clementines work really well because of their size and they are much softer to squeeze.  We have a small glass reemer and they pour their juice into a glass to drink.  One Clementine makes a perfect size glass of juice.  We are going through lots of clementines.  One of the children remarked how he doesn't need to eat before he comes to school because he can have a second breakfast here.  Another child who was upset that he didn't get to the orange juice work today said that he would do apple work tomorrow and saturday when he came to school would be his day to make juice!
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice Anyone?

This was a super fun game that Ms. Wendy set up for the older children.  They are to work in pairs and see who can melt their ice cube first.  If you scroll down you will see how we have the directions set up.  This is a game we found at My Montessori Journey.  I love her blog and sadly she isn't posting to it anymore.  

That's all for now.  I am really busy with a super big project that I am hoping to share at our next book club.  I am laminating like crazy!  I seem to always have a project on the go and it never feels like I have enough time.  hmmmmmm maybe I need another sick day.  ~m

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Arctic Adventures

 We are looking at the Arctic this month.  We have lots of fun things planned all around this.  I can't think of a better time to do this since it is sooooo cold outside right now!  We made this iceberg or ice cap if you will and we just keep refilling the container and freezing it again.  The quiet in our classroom right now is incredible.  Everyone is busy exploring, playing and learning right now.  I love how children come and go at this piece of work all morning long and how at the end of the morning it is small and there is water everywhere.  Global warming hmmmmmmm.

 I really like the Eyewitness Books.  I think for our age group they are a great factual book for reference.
 A few parents have commented on the nature table.  One of my Moms from the last few years made this for us.  I wanted to put it out last year but we never got to it.  It seemed perfect this year and I was able to add to it with a Toob about Arctic life I found at Michaels craft store.
 I have a soft spot for the penguins and the polar bear.  I am missing my crafty mom this year!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Time for Travel

 For a while now I've been working on this project and it is finally finished!!  I've been home for the last few days sick and shack happy and so needing a project.  Last night I went into the school and brought home my paper cutter.

Today I finished making our passports for the map cabinet.  They actually went together fairly quickly once I got my system in place.  I also had to go out and buy a really long industrial stapler.  this was a great purchase as it will allow us to make many more things and do lots of book binding.
 Wendy and I found some lovely wrapping paper at the art shop and I cut and laminated the book covers.  I really wanted them to be strong and hold up well.  I had planned to just have blank paper in the books but I happened upon a great website, Art Projects for kids.  Kathy Barbro has some amazing stuff on her website and we have used a few of her ideas and I have bought a few of her files.  This is where I purchased my file for the Canadian passports to make our books.  You just have to search it out in the search box on her site.

As you can see they turned out great and it is exactly what I was looking for!  I also have a stamp for the visa section so when the children work with a particular map or travel to a certain continent we will be able to document it.  It is a nice way for us to keep track of who is ready for more. These are going to be so much fun and will really compliment our continent boxes that I am just finishing up!  Yay, A Trip!  Don't you just love taking trips?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Addition to our Menu

I am very excited to announce that as of today, Getaway Farm will be the new supplier of all our meat.  During my time off over the holidays I was able to arrange our monthly meat order with Chris at Getaway Farm and the best part is, he or someone from the shop will deliver it to us!!  So happy about this as it is super challenging to eat local and have it available when we need it.  I have been finding it hard to shop for both my family and all my extended family at Maple Tree on Saturday mornings at the Seaport Market.
 We will be getting ground beef, ground pork and pork roasts.  We decided to try a new pulled pork sandwich with the children later this month and Chris has hooked me up with a great shoulder roast for this!  Anyway, I've been trying their meat out at home and it is very tasty and the quality is excellent.  The customer service is fantastic and super friendly.  They have suggested that we may want to visit the farm with the children or have them come in to talk about farming and where our food comes from.  Here is a link about who they are http://farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/The-Story-of-Getaway-Farm1.pdf

and here is their website: Get Away Farm  Go and check them out and feel good knowing that the children are eating very well.  I don't mind saying.....2012 is off to a great start!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Announcing Our January Give Away!!

 Welcome back to School and back to this space!  This month's giveaway has been generously donated by Eleanor of Artburn.  I first found out about Artburn in November when I was shopping at a Christmas Craft fair.  I knew as soon as I saw the tee shirt painting kits that they would make great gifts for arty children.      So,  I bought a couple and gave them away as gifts and one went to my daughter who LOVED it so much she promptly ask for another one for her birthday!  So I sent an email.  Turns out Artburn is here in Halifax.  It is a local business owned by Eleanor Kure.  When she is not traveling to craft fairs to sell her projects you can visit her website and place an order.  I was able to connect with Eleanor today and enjoy a cup of tea and learn about her business and purchase more kits for my birthday party stash.  In a funny way I think I was meant to meet this lovely lady and learn about her business.  Eleanor, went to a Montessori when she was little for a few years and she shared with me some of her memories of that time.  It is very cool to know that some things just never change in a Montessori classroom.  Artburn is the product of her need to be a creative soul and she has been doing it for eighteen years.  The business started out as Funky tee shirts for Adults and then moved into artistic patches for jeans and now painting kits for children.  Of the two giveaways, one is a Butterfly tee shirt and the other is a Pillow Case called Magic Pillow.  I LOVE the meaning behind the Magic Pillow Case.  The Pillow Case says Sweet Dreams, My Magic Pillow.  In each corner are re affirming phrases, such as, I am Loved, I am Safe, Tomorrow will be a great day.  This is a great gift for a child to make, but also very comforting to have.  The paints are 100% non toxic and once washed it is super soft and the colours very vibrant, the plastic bag it comes in is biodegradable.  I am a big fan of giving practical and fun gifts and these are brilliant! Did I mention that they sell for $20 a kit!   If you get a chance check out her website or drop her an email.  Happy 2012 Everyone and Thank you Eleanor!