Save Handmade Toys

3 Jan

The following information was taken from Handmade Toy Alliance.

On February 10th, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) will go into effect. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers and manufacturers of children’s products, however, the costs
of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.

  • A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
  • A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes cloth diapers to sell online must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
  • A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
  • And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of children’s goods that have earned and kept the public’s trust: Toys, clothes, and accessories made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade children’s products will no longer be legal in the US.

Here’s how you can help (information courtesy of Cool Mom Picks):

Click here to go to the Cool Mom Picks website and find more article links to know more.

Advent Conspiracy

30 Dec

This is so cool. Something to consider when planning next year’s Christmas. I know that Jason and I will definitely do Christmas different next year.

If you can’t see the following video, click here to view it on YouTube.


Mushroom Sauce

26 Nov

Last night Jason grilled some boneless pork chops and sausage. I made a really yummy mushroom sauce to pour over the pork chops. It was also great spooned over a baked potato. I got it from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals, but I altered it slightly. So, since I changed it I feel okay posting the recipe.

Mushroom-Garlic Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 16 oz. package of fresh mushrooms (I used what I could find, which was button mushrooms. If you live in a more "cultured" area, you could probably use some type of wild mushroom. And, no, Mom, you cannot use the canned mushrooms for this. Must be fresh!)
  • Garlic (If you are using actual cloves, use around 2 – or more if your daring – but I don't bother with the stuff. I keep a jar of already minced garlic in the fridge. So I used about 1 tbsp. Actually I might have used 2 because I really like garlic. Makes my breath stinky. Pedro likes it too. Jason, not so much.) 
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme (I, like Rachel Ray, just eyeball in the palm of my hand.) 
  • 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium beef broth (You could use any type of broth you want, but I find it much better with beef broth.) 
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch 
  • OH, and DUH, olive oil. Use however much you're comfortable with. 

Directions:

  • Slice the mushrooms. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the mushrooms for 3-5 minutes, until browned, juicy, and less in volume. (Sorry, don't know the technical lingo here. Nikki, what would be a better way to word that?)
  • Add the garlic. Saute for about one more minute. (Or like five more in my kitchen because I'm never prepared enough. Need a sous chef.)  
  • Add 2 cups of broth. Note: This is not the full amount of broth I mentioned earlier. You will save the 1/2 cup for later.  
  • Let simmer for 10 minutes. Partially cover the pan. 
  • Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup broth and 2 tbsp. cornstarch. **See, I like my sauces to have a gravy-like consistency. And, while this sauce is amazing, it's a little too thin for me. If you like your sauce thin you could omit this step. But I find it's worth it. Also, you could just add the cornstarch to the the simmering sauce, but then you get lumps. It takes only a few seconds to whisk this together, and it's worth it in the end. Saves you a lot of time.  
  • After 10 minutes of simmering, add the cornstarch mixture to the mushroom mixture. Turn off the heat and let stand for a minute. Goodness is about to happen. See it thickening? Hmmm….yummmm….Must devour. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste. I found that it didn't need any salt because the meat and potatoes that I spooned this over were already seasoned.

 This was so good over grilled pork chops and baked potatoes. You could also spoon this over, well, pretty much any type of meat.

Another edu link

29 Oct

Another blog post about learning I found worth reading: Curriculum of Curiosity.

Please don't add this to our curriculum.

28 Oct

I've already ranted how our curriculum is overloaded. See what they are teaching in California. Granted it's not the Bible belt, but jeez-Louise Lord help us…we do not need to teach this at school. Why has the school become the one place that children learn EVERYTHING? Isn't the home responsible for teaching some stuff? Let's just put it this way…the day the government asks me to teach homosexuality at school is the day I give my two-weeks notice. I have strong opinions about homosexuality. I don't hate gays and lesbians, but I disagree with their lifestyle of choice.

No Child Left Inside

22 Oct

I do not use this blog to discuss my work. To be quite honest, there are lots of things I could share…positive, negative, neutral, funny, sad. But, this is not the place. And not exactly wise. You see, I work at a school. And with that comes a responsibility to the children. Which means that discussing them is not allowed. Even if I were to use code names, there's a chance that somebody could figure out who I'm talking about. So I avoid it.

But, I do have to share the funniest knock-knock joke I've ever heard.

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

Banana.

Banana who?

Banana {giggle} chicken nuggets.

Hmmm….I suppose it's not the knock-knock joke you grew up with. But it sure made this child laugh. Which made me laugh. Which made others laugh. So, there you go, banana.

Having said all of that, I get back to my opening statement. I do not normally discuss what I do. I will say why I work at a school. Because I love to teach. Because I love to learn. Because I love children. And because I love teaching children to fall in love with learning. I am a life-long student of life. I enjoy learning and always will.

Did you know that I started out my undergrad in elementary education? But I didn't finish it. I graduated with a degree in communication. What? Yeah, I know. I'm right back where I started. When I began taking education classes, I had a strong desire to teach. But I got scared. All of sudden I learned about all the benchmarks, paperwork, state requirements. blah, blah, the list goes on and on. And I chickened out. Not for me, I said. I simply wanted to teach. So I changed my major and figured I could teach Sunday School and that would be enough.

Now, I'm working as a teacher's assistant in kindergarten and loving it. If I had only known. I'm working on my certification (though it will be for grades 4-8). But I'm glad that I'm an assistant first, because I get to see first-hand what teachers have to do. And I see how overloaded our teachers are by state and federal mandated programs. And I'm reminded of why I dropped out in the first place…because I wanted to TEACH and not deal with the other mess.

Don't get me wrong. I still want to teach.

But, I think you should read this article. Some of you might not understand, but anybody out there who is a teacher will understand what this guy is saying. And this is a lesson for all aspects of life, not just education: just because something is a good idea doesn't mean it's the right idea for you.

Keep in mind, I'm not dissing the school system. Unfortunately, I believe that federal and state mandated requirements have been forced upon teachers and students to the point that school (and, therefore, learning) is no longer fun.

"And, you can take that to the bank." – Willy Wonka

Jamaican Jerk Drumsticks

1 Jul

Yesterday I made some yummy WW¬†jamaican jerk drumsticks in the crockpot…using jalapenos. If you haven’t cooked with jalapenos take my advice. They secrete a small amount of oil that can burn you. Not third degree burns, just a burning sensation. The last time I used them I swore I washed my hands really well yet to find that I burned my lip ever so slightly when I rubbed it. Well, yesterday about 30 minutes after chopped up the jalapenos, my thumb started hurting. A burning hurting. I couldn’t figure it out exactly but I knew that it had to be from the jalapenos. I just couldn’t understand why it hurt my thumb and not my other fingers. Plus I majorly washed my hands this time.

Then I remembered the prick. The teeny tiny prick that I had forgotten. The jalapeno’s oils had gotten into my teeny tiny prick and caused it to slightly swell and majorly hurt. If I pressed on it, it hurt. I could suck my thumb and taste the burn. I soaked it in milk and it slightly eased the pain. Today it is much better of course.

Note to self: Next time wear some plastic gloves or something ’cause you obviously can’t cut a jalapeno without burning yourself.

So, to get back at that little jalapeno, I’m sharing the recipe.

Jamaican Jerk Drumsticks (Serves 4) – 6 pt

Ingredients:

  • 6 scallions, chopped (I just buy the Zatarans dried scallions and throw a couple of handfuls in)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (The original recipe calls for serrano peppers, but i prefer it with jalapenos. Less spice. Amelia, you will need to use 1 bell pepper instead – much milder!), seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or bottled if you are lazy like me)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp jamaican jerk seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 chicken drumsticks (about 1/12 pounds), skinned (again i’m lazy and I just pull the skin back to the bottom; it’ll fall off when you get ready to eat)

Directions:

  1. Put the scallions, peppers, lemon juice, honey, oil, jerk seasoning, and salt in a blender; Process until a smooth paste forms (or in my case, a chunky paste because I use my hand-held blender and it takes forever); 1-2 minutes *
  2. Combine the drumsticks and jerk paste in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker; mix well. Cover and cook until the drumsticks are fork tender, 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

* By the way, I don’t bother measuring anything. I just guestimate. So sometimes when I make this its a little more liquid than paste and that’s totally fine because it still comes out great. Plus having a little more liquid makes sort of a gravy that you can spoon over your rice.

We serve this with some brown rice and beans. Yummy!