South Texas Style Chili Rellenos

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South Texas Style Chili Rellenos

The title is kind of a guffaw, actually, and the reason is that when hubby and I first moved to south Texas, and specifically the little town that we’re in, there wasn’t a chili relleno to be had on a single menu; not in a single restaurant in our town.  And when I asked for “green chili” on an omelet for the first time I was met with a puzzled look and a question, “Do you  mean Tomatillo sauce?”  Um, no.

Needless to say, we were terribly disappointed, and bewildered.  How could this be?  Is it that green chilies only migrated north and west from New Mexico and not east?  Maybe they aren’t a Mexican food at all?  Perhaps it was my ignorance that green chilies and Tex-Mex were synonymous? ūüėě

I’m happy to report that just a couple of years later Hatch green chilies started making an appearance in these parts, and when they did, they made a big appearance.  There are still no Chili Rellenos on the menus in our town, but at least this girl can get the ingredients in our local grocery to make them now, and that’s really all that matters.  

And in all fairness, not all of South Texas is a dry Rellenos area; we’ve had them in a few San Antonio restaurants, even though they only barely resemble the authentic Rellenos that first stole my heart. 

And, please pardon if I don’t make mine like you do.  This is the way I personally like them.  I’m sure I would love yours, unless you make them with ground beef filling, and then I’ll have to reserve my judgement until I’ve tasted them.  Husband likes the beef filled rellenos, but I dream about cheese filled rellenos and am content to eat those for the rest of my days.

I got my Ranchera Sauce recipe from a gal I stopped in the middle of HEB not long back.  She works in a local restaurant, so I knew she would steer me straight, at least as much of it as I could remember as she rattled her recipe off to me in the midst of my gathering ingredients.  Ha!  I hope I’m making it right. It’s sure tasty, so I’m sticking with it. ūüėÜ

First we start with the Ranchera Sauce

Place a stick of butter into a heavy pan and on medium high heat begin melting.  As soon as it is melted add one whole large chopped onion (white or yellow).  Saute the onion until it is translucent, turn heat down to medium and continue saut√©ing until the onions are caramelized.  This will take quite a while.

Chop 2 jalapenos (stems discarded), and about 6 large plum tomatoes into chunks.  Add them to the caramelized onions and let them cook until softened.  Add a 14-oz can of tomato sauce to the mixture, stir, place a lid, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook until you are ready to batter and fry the rellenos.  At that point you will want to use a Braun Wand blender tool to whirl the Ranchera sauce into a smooth sauce with no large chunks.

Now, the preparation of the green chilies…

Pick the largest, firmest ones you can find at your grocery.  Bring them home and wash them, and then dry them.  I like the spicy ones.  You might prefer the milder ones.

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Move an oven rack up to the highest level of your oven.  Preheat your oven broiler (you can do them on the grill too…but the oven is faster and easier).  Place your washed chilies on a cookie sheet and slide them onto that top rack in the oven.

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Close the oven door (I prop my door open slightly with a wooden spoon – I like to hear my chilies popping and crackling).

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Let the chilies broil on one side long enough for them to become charred and blistered.

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Use tongs to roll them a quarter turn and return to broiler.  Check them often for doneness.  Continue turning and broiling until the chilies skins are blistered and charred all the way around.

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Quickly remove them from the cookie sheet and place them into a large Ziploc freezer back, and seal it.

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Allow chilies to steam inside the bag for several minutes, while you prepare the rest of the meal.

NOTE:  I like to serve my Rellenos with homemade refried beans and a cheesy green chili rice.  See those recipes below, and it would be a great time to start making them now.  This is also a good time to blend your Ranchera sauce and make is smooth.  Keep it simmering on a back burner until ready to serve.

Start about 2 inches of oil getting hot in a deep sided frying pan (…just hot enough that a droplet of water makes it pop and fizzle.  Not hot enough to be smoking.  If you are seeing streaks/waves in your oil, it may be too hot.  Either drop your heat, or add a little more oil to cool it down a bit before adding your chilies).  The pan you use should be large enough that two chilies will fit without touching the sides or each other.

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As soon as the green chilies have cooled enough to handle take them to the sink and begin removing the skins.  They should slide right off easily.  If not, be careful not to tear the chili, as it will be hard to keep the filling inside while you are battering it.

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Once the chilies are skinned, make a slight slit along the side near the top stem of each.

cut the chili

Only make it big enough to slide the pieces of cheese inside.  If you wish to remove some of the seeds you  may do that also.  I push the seeds out through the slit.  I don’t mind a few seeds in my rellenos though.  I use Pepper-Jack Cheese.  For 8 to 10 chilies you will need about 1 1/2 8-oz blocks, which I cut into quarter-inch slices and then into quarter inch strips.

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Begin stuffing your chilies with strips of cheese, about 5 or so strips per chili.  Dust the outsides with flour and lay them on a paper towel as you prepare them.  Once all the chilies have been stuffed and floured, you are ready to make your batter.

I beat two eggs and add about a cup of water to them…

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…and then I whisk in some seasoned beer batter mix (part of one bag) until the consistency is about that of thin pancake batter.  The batter should stick to your chilies, but just leave a fairly thin film.  Hold the chili by the stem and dip it into the batter.  Use a fork to sweep batter over the top of the chili and then gently lift the chili out of the batter, with the fork.  Slide it into the hot oil and let it begin frying.  Add another chili and let the two fry together.

Allow the chilies to fry for a few minutes and then use tongs to turn.  The batter should turn a golden color.  Scoop the chilies out of the oil and place on paper towels for a moment to absorb the oil.  Quickly plate them and cover them with simmering Ranchera Sauce.

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Oh my how I love them!!!!!   Now if I could figure out how to feed a crowd all at the same time I’d be in business.  I only know how to make Rellenos for one person at a time.  Hot and fresh.

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Colleen's Chile Rellenos

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Mama’s Refried Beans

If you’ve made a pot of pinto beans and have leftovers, by all means use them for this.  If not, look for these varieties at your local grocery store.  I used 2 cans of Charro and 1 can of Barracho (which means drunken – notice that they use Shiner beer for this).

First I drained my beans of all the liquid (don’t rinse them).  I melted about 2 Tablespoons of rendered pork fat (lard), actually I used some bacon fat I had on hand, in a sauce pan on the stove, and then added my beans.  I let them just bubble and cook on medium low heat until I was almost ready to serve my meal.  Moments before I was ready to serve I took a potato masher and mashed the beans until they were the desired consistence.  They may be served with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some chopped green onion.

NOTE: This also makes a wonderful bean dip, if you like that with tortilla chips for a snack.

DSCN9810Cheesy Green Chili Rice

First I saut√©ed my rice in about 1/2 a stick of butter in a small sauce pot, on high heat.  After about a minute of continuous stirring, I added 2 cups of hot chicken broth, 1 can of diced green chilies, and a grind of sea salt.  When the liquid boils, place a lid on the pot and turn the heat down to low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Lift the lid and lay several slices of pepper jack cheese on top of the rice.  Replace the lid and leave until cheese is melted.  Lift lid and fluff rice with a fork, incorporating the cheese throughout.  If you like it just a little creamier, you may add a splash of Crema, or heavy cream, and a sprinkle of cayenne.

 

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”  Acts 2:46

 

 

Mrs. H’s Santa Fe Burger

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Mrs. H’s Santa Fe Burger

My husband and I discovered a little burger joint soon after moving to south Texas.  It’s not a fancy place.  In fact it’s kind of grimey looking on the outside.  A regular person might even drive right past it and not think twice about it.  It’s just a little dive of a place really, along the side of the road in Hondo, TX, but one day the old man and I cowboyed up and gave it a try … and I tell you … we absolutely fell in love with the Santa Fe burger that we ordered that first day.  We love it so much it’s all we can ever think about when we drive by.  We stop in regularly, on our way through town, just to indulge in its deliciousness.  We love it so much we haven’t even ever tried anything else on the menu.  You ever find a restaurant like that?  They are real sweet about adding a few extra things to our burgers, which is what puts the Santa Fe right over the top.  The next thing we know we’ve got it dripping down our arms, not saying a word, chewing as fast as we can to make our nagging tongues happy.

So, because of the couple of little extras I always ask for, I feel like its okay to give you my take on Billy Bobs lovely little sandwich of deliciousness.  My version by no means replaces theirs, but it’s a nice little appetizer between trips.  I’ll warn you up front that It’s a little bit of work to make, but baby it’s worth it!!!!  At least in my book.

Prepare the Green Chilies

For this recipe you’ll need about two green chilies per person, so about eight should do. I pick out the biggest and most firm Anaheim (Hatch, Fresno, New Mexico) green chilies available at the market (I also grow them in my garden).

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Wash them and dry them off, and then lay them out on a cookie sheet.

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Raise one of the oven racks to its highest position in the oven and turn the oven on to BROIL.  Allow the oven to warm up, and then put the cookie sheet of chilies in, just under the top heating element.

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I usually prop a wooden spoon in the door to hold it open a tad, so I can hear the chilies popping and crackling.

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I keep an eye on them, as it doesn’t take long.  When I see that they are pretty popped and blistered, and burned on that top side, I open the oven, slide the rack out, and use tongs to turn the chilies a quarter of a turn, and then put them back under the heat.  I continue broiling and turning until the chilies are popped and blistered, and charred on all sides.

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Quickly remove the chilies from the oven with tongs and immediately place them into a plastic Ziploc freezer back.  As soon as all the chilies are inside the bag, zip it up, and then let them sit and steam for several minutes, while you work on the rest of  your meal.

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green chilies

Back in Wyoming there was a certain time in the summer when the green chile trucks would show up in parking lots around town with heaping baskets full of green chilies and a barrel-type roaster that rotated over an open fire.  We could buy the amount of chilies we wanted and they would roast them, and then package them up for us to take home.  I often bought large amounts of those chilies, took them home and repackaged them (about six chilies to a bag) into plastic zip bags, with their blistered skins left on, but all the air squeezed out, and put them straight into my freezer.  Whenever I wanted to make something with green chilies I’d grab a bag and let it thaw for a little bit on the kitchen counter, peel the skins off in the sink, and sometimes remove the seeds and stems (depending upon what I was making), and either use them whole or chop them into pieces for whatever recipe I was doing.  SOooooo many ways to use green chilies!!!!  

Its unfortunate, but we don’t get those trucks in the little Texas town where I live now, and perhaps not where you live either.  The BBQ grill works, but I’m not a fan of standing over a hot grill to babysit chilies on a hot south Texas day.  But, in this instance, you’ll be grilling burgers out there anyways, so you may prefer just to do it all on the grill.  And maybe you have a hubby who is all about the grill and happy to do them for you!  Knuckle bump!!!!

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The Beef Patties

1 (1-pound) pkg of high quality ground beef plus 1 (1-pound) pkg of ground bison

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1 jalapeno, stem removed, seeds and flesh chopped finely

1/2 of a small red onion, chopped finely

1 tsp Salt Lick dry rub seasoning (this is mostly just cayenne and ground black pepper)

Sliced Pepper Jack cheese – to be placed on burgers at the end of grilling

Hamburger buns of choice (Sometimes all I can find are the regular, sesame seed buns, but when I can find a good, soft, ciabatta-type bun, I use that).

Mix together gently and form into four or five good-sized patties.  Set aside while you prepare the following ingredients, and then grill the burgers over hot coals on the BBQ.  Add the cheese during the last minute or so of grilling.

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Toppings

Bacon (2 slices per burger), the best is the thicker sliced applewood bacon, fried crispy  (but if I’m in a hurry and don’t have leftover bacon from breakfast, I’ll use the precooked bacon available at the grocery store and go with 3 or 4 slices per burger)

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Peel the skins off the green chilies, and remove seeds and stems, but leave whole

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Sliced jalapeno

Sliced red onion

Sliced heirloom tomatoes

Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Dill pickle slices

Garlic Mayonaise (mash 1 clove of garlic and mix into 2/3 cup of mayo, I often add a sprinkle of chili powder and a squeeze of lime, and sometimes some minced cilantro)

Dijon mustard

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To Assemble the Burger

Some like their buns toasted

Spread some mayo over the bun halves

Squirt on some mustard

Lay a whole slice of red onion down

Place a few slices of jalapeno on top of the onion

Then a freshly cooked beef pattie with melted cheese

Layer on two Green Chilies, two slices of cooked bacon, a slice of tomato, a folded leaf of lettuce, (and a couple slices of dill pickle if desired)

Place the top of bun in place

Mash down so you can fit it in your mouth and ENJOY!!!!!

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For this Memorial Day,

… I made these burgers and served them with my Jalapeno Potato Salad (from Cowboy Backyard BBQ), plus my latest favorite food: Mexican Street Corn, and sliced watermelon for dessert.

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Potato Salad

Mama’s POTATO SALAD 

Ingredients

6 large red potatoes cooked until tender and cubed, skins on or off as preferred

4 hard boiled eggs, cooled and chopped

1/2 large red onion diced

3 stalks of celery chopped

2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish

1 small sprig of dill weed, chopped

1 bunch of green onions chopped

1 or 2 large jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, diced

Sauce Ingredients:

1 cups Mayonnaise  (plus more or less, as you like it)

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Sea Salt  (plus more as desired)

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp ground pepper

 Directions:

Put first eight ingredients in a very large bowl.  Mix up sauce ingredients and pour over the ingredients in the bowl.  Toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Optional additions:

Add a half-cup of blue cheese crumbles and a quarter cup of crispy crumbled bacon as a garnish on top of potato salad.

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Colleen’s Mexican Street Corn 

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  • 8 ears fresh sweet corn (leave the husks and stems on)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican crema (my grocer carries two types, a sweet cream type,which tastes like heavy whipping cream, and a sour cream kind. Both have a slightly thicker consistency than whipping cream)
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija or Queso Fresco cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I make my own blend, see recipe below)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, mashed and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 or 5 limes, cut into wedges

I grilled my corn in the husks on the grill, turning about every 5 minutes until charred on all sides, and then I pulled the husks down over the stems (using oven mitt to protect my hands from burning) and returned the corn to the grill for a short time (about 3 minutes) to give the kernels that charred effect.  I left the husks attached for a decorative effect, but now as I look at these photos I‚Äôm thinking they might have been even cuter if I had tied something around each husk, like a piece of raffia or something, to bundle them together and anchor them to the stems, turning them into decorative ‚Äúhandles.‚ÄĚ  NOTE: The corn can also be shucked and ‚Äúgrilled‚ÄĚ in the oven at 425 degrees F, turning about every 7 minutes or so until cooked all the way around.  Once it is cooked on all sides and has some charred spots it‚Äôs time to dress it up.

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While the corn is grilling, mix together the mayo (please don‚Äôt use the fat-free stuff.  I know it may be healthier for you, but really, you must live a little!!!), crema, garlic, and add about 1/4 tsp of the chili powder.  Juice and zest a couple of the limes and then add the juice and zest to the mayo mixture.  Toss in about half of the crumbled cotija (Queso Fresco).  Mix well and keep in fridge until ready to use.  Cut the remaining limes into wedges and save for serving.

As soon as the corn is grilled, spread each cob with a generous amount of the mayo mix on all sides. Don‚Äôt be chincy.  Follow with a sprinkling all around of chili powder, and then cheese crumbles.  Sprinkle some cilantro on top, and a few extra sprinkles of the cheese.  Serve immediately with a wedge of lime for each cob!

You‚Äôve died and gone to heaven, right?  I‚Äôm there with ya!!!!!!

 

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Colleen’s Homemade Chili Powder

  • 3 Ancho Chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 3 Cascabel/Guajillo chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 4 Arbol/Cayenne chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 2 Pasilla chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 2 New Mexico Red chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon hot Paprika

Place the chiles and cumin seeds in a saute pan or cast iron skillet and toast over medium heat about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and place in a glass bowl to cool completely.  Once cool, place in a blender, along with the other ingredients and process until a fine powder. Allow the powder to settle for several minutes before lifting the lid.  Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.  Use for making chili, to season corn, or in BBQ sauces and dry rubs.

 

End-of-the-school-year OLYMPIC GAMES

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End-of-the-school-year OLYMPIC GAMES

Are you looking for a clever way to close out the school year for your little group of elementary students? ¬†Are you on a tight budget, or have very few amusement options available in your town. ¬†NO WORRIES. ¬†Us too!!! ¬†Hopefully your town at least has¬†a city park that’s kept nice, mowed and watered, or a nice, large, grassy area with lots of shade trees? ¬†That’s all that’s needed¬†for this shindig.

There goes the school year!!!! Grade One Done… Only eleven more to go!

I sketched out my party plan in a notebook…

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…and then went to work¬†making the signs for the games:

 

….and TORCHES for each of the kids to wear (as medals)…

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I printed out sheets of the torches, wrote the kids’ names on them, had them laminated, and then punched a hole at the top to string a ribbon through. ¬†On the back I printed the list of events so I could mark¬†winners with a red sharpie, or¬†completed with a blue sharpie.

The kids began their afternoon of fun by first having lunch delivered to them at the school (from Wendy’s, courtesy of one of the¬†awesome parents), and after each of them had used the bathroom, they began their little journey from the school to the park (about a 3 block¬†walk with their teacher). ¬†When they arrived at¬†the entrance to the park, this is the first thing they saw:

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They were presented with their TORCHES, and then positioned behind the sign to pose for pictures. ¬†We were blessed that a very talented member of the school staff, also teacher, photographer, and composer of the school’s yearbook, was there to take some wonderful pictures, which I will post here as soon as she makes them available, and gives me permission.

 

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BANG!   Let the games begin!

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The first game in our line up was the…

Lunchbox “Hammer” Throw

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(The kids aren’t gonna need a lunchbox for a few months. ¬†Hip hip hooray, let’s toss it away!)

First I demonstrated to the kids what they would be doing in this game.  I grabbed the lunchbox by the handles, put my left arm straight out, twirled in a counter-clockwise circle a couple of times, and then when I was facing the field, let go of the lunchbox and let it fly as far away as it would go.  After the demo I handed the first kid the lunchbox and let them try.  The kids lined up behind the starting line and took turns twirling and tossing the soft-sided lunchbox out into the field.  (P.S. I had placed a small bag of pinto beans inside to give it some weight).  The child with the farthest distance after three tosses was declared the winner!

Supplies needed: Sign, lunchbox, a couple of orange cones, a jump rope, and something to mark the farthest distance.

 

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The next game was…

Crayola Archery

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After I attempted to demonstrate this game, we decided to turn it into a¬†Crayola Javelin Throw, since¬†our cheapo “dollar store” bow kept breaking. ¬†The darn string kept popping out of its slot (Update: wind a rubber band tightly around the tip ends of the bow to keep the string in place. This works like a charm). ¬†Anyway, after a bit of frustration from the darn bow popping apart every time we used it, we just decided to throw the crayon like a javelin. ¬†The kids each got a turn to stand behind the line (I used a downed limb from one of the trees as the marker for this) and then take¬†a turn hurling their¬†javelins at the three hula hoop targets laid out in the distance. ¬†(You can barely see them in the photo below, but look close.)

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This is what the arrows/javelins looked like up close.  I used fat crayons and inserted them into big straws (the ones used for smoothies).  They were a perfect fit, and stayed snuggly attached to each other for the whole event.  At least something stayed to together!

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(This is the dumb bow we used. ¬†Um, scratch that. ¬†Didn’t use!!!!)

The student with the most targets bullseyed after three tries was declared the winner!

Supplies needed: One dollar-store bow and arrow set, 1 pkg big crayons, the sign to identify the event, and three hula hoops.  Oh, and something to mark the starting line.

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The next game was…

Homework Fencing

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You are looking at the fencing arena. ¬†Ours was marked by 4 trees as boundaries. ¬†After demonstrating to the students what they would be doing, the students lined up behind the sign and two pairs at a time faced off¬†using the pool noodles as their¬†fencing swords. ¬†(I got the fatest noodles I could find, to make it harder for little hands to hold onto). ¬†With one arm behind their backs they each swung their noodles at their opponent’s noodle, trying to knock it out of their hands, because homework is now out of their hands. ¬†Any body contact or face contact, or stepping outside the boundaries was considered a scratch and the offender was disqualified. ¬†Winners of each duo were collected to the side to compete in round two. ¬†Eventually a final winner was declared.

Supplies needed:  The sign, four pool noodles

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The next game was…

Alarm Clock Shot Put Throw

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(Hey kids, say goodbye to the alarm clock for a few months!!!! ¬†In fact, let’s pitch that obnoxious contraption as far as we can throw it!)

First I demonstrated to the students how this game was played, similar to the hammer throw, and then the students were lined up behind the starting line, and took turns holding the alarm clock under their chins, twirling, and then heaving it as far as they could out into the field.  (Note: I used a cheapy plastic clock from the dollar store.  It broke on the first throw and left kind of a sharp edge that I cautioned the kids to be careful with.  Then the glass also broke.  Fail!  The better choice would have been something made 100% out of non shatterable plastic and no glass).

The child who launched it the farthest distance after all of them had been given three tries was declared the winner.

Supplies needed: Sign, cones and jump rope to mark the starting line, an alarm clock, and something to mark distance.

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The next game was…

Three R’s Shooting Competition

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The three R’s stood for Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic, which were featured on the three targets placed at a distance from the starting line. ¬†(Way to target your subjects this year kids)! ¬†The students lined up behind the starting line. They were instructed that one kid at a time would approach the starting line, grab a squirty bottle, aim at the first target, and begin squirting at it, moving¬†in closer until the stream of water touched¬†the first target, then they could move to the next target, and then the last target and do the same. Their time started when the teacher said, “GO” and they began squirting and stopped when they hit the last target. ¬†¬†Each child took their¬†turn. ¬†The kid with the fastest time (after three rounds) was declared the winner.

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Supplies needed:  A sign, three targets, and a squirty bottle filled with water.

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The next game was…

Water Bottle Relay with Hurdles

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(Hey kids, you’re not gonna need those water bottles for a while, AND we can celebrate that you all got over your hurdles of – Language, Art/Music/P.E., and Science this year. ¬†Way to go kids! ¬†You are all champions!!!!)

The kids lined up in two groups behind the starting line.  After demonstrating to the kids how to run the course, I handed each first person in line a water bottle. At the sound of my whistle the two kids with water bottles ran down the course, leaping over the hurdles and down around the cone at the far end of the course, and returning to hand off their water bottle to their next teammate.  The first team to complete the course was declared the winner.

Supplies needed: A sign, three hurdles with words attached that represent school subjects, two water bottles, a start line, an orange cone, and a whistle.

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This concluded the structured games. ¬†At this point the kids were given a break to get a drink and snack and rest for a bit. Several of the parents brought coolers full of drinks (bottled water, juice, Gatorade, etc.) and snacks (Cuties oranges, goGurts, popsicles, cookies, carrots, etc.) for the kids to ¬†munch on¬†and stay hydrated with, and they served their treats “Tailgate style” out of the back of their vehicles, parked alongside the park.

For the remainder of the afternoon ¬†the kids participated in¬†free play. ¬†I had set up a Badminton net and blew up a giant beach ball for them to either toss over the net to each other volleyball style, or just kick around the park in a giant game of “keep away.”

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In addition I brought a giant soft-sided Frisbee, bottles of bubbles for everyone, a soccer ball, the hula hoops, and gave each child a squirty bottle full of water to also play with.  In addition, one of our awesome parents brought a huge cooler full of water balloons for a hot potato game.

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The parents and I chilled out on blankets spread-out under the shade of a grand old oak tree, and visited with each other while the kids tear-butted around having the time of their lives.  I think the kids all had as much fun, if not more, with free play as they did with the games, hey, but a theme is a theme, right?  What a great afternoon and terrific group of kiddos!!!!  I hardly noticed that it was 95 degrees and 50% humidity.  HA!

After a couple of hours of playtime, the parents went around and gathered up the signs and parts of each game and helped pack everything up. ¬†The kids picked up all the trash and bits of broken balloons and then gathered with their teacher to walk back to school. ¬†Before they dismissed to go home each was presented¬†a gift bag, which contained a movie theater pass (that they could use to go see Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2, which just released in theaters the week before), a pass to the local indoor inflatables park, and a gift certificate to Dairy Queen, plus a Nerf ball¬†(which gave me the inspiration for the theme of the bags), so they could all…¬†“Have a BALL this Summer!” ¬†ūüôā

gift bags

 

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Yay kids…you finished your race well! ¬†Happy summer to you all!!!!!

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“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ¬† Hebrews 12:1-2 ¬†NKJV

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Easter Fun and Games

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Easter Fun and Games

As a¬†sequel to Easter Traditions¬†…¬†I present Easter Fun and Games!

I kind of questioned myself if I should just add this post to that other one, or¬†make this a whole¬†new and¬†separate¬†one. ¬†The thing is, THIS¬†Easter was so far¬†superior to¬†all the others I’ve ever invented over the years, that it felt¬†inspired¬†–¬†like¬†there is no way I could¬†have come up with it on my own. ¬†It was a heavyweight title belt winning knockout of Easters. ¬†A game four World Series winning home run of Easters. ¬†A¬†Super Bowl¬†winning touchdown in overtime of Easters. ¬†To think such a¬†hit of a¬†potlatch¬†could have¬†conceived¬†in my¬†frail¬†noggin¬†compelled me to blog about it.

It’s funny; I often wonder, somewhere in the middle of one of my writing fits, that with all the ideas that are¬†busting a move¬†out there on Pinterest, Google, and the millions of blogs, if there is really anything new under the sun, and if by chance there¬†might be, how on earth¬†would¬†anyone ever even find their way¬†under¬†and around, up¬†and¬†over, through¬†the¬†pin hole¬†door, and a mile¬†down¬†yonder on a dirt¬†track with a million switchbacks, to¬†this one,¬†lonely, little, secluded post in a random cul-de-sac of lower middle-class cyberspace-ville. ¬†Boy! ¬†It will make your brain hurt¬†thinking¬†about it, won’t it? ¬†It’s already a bit of a catch-and-release program to send this out to you all in a way. ¬†Knowing the¬†chance for life¬†it will have swimming in the Internet sea.¬† I guess this is why I decided that¬†I¬†just couldn’t¬†start its young life buried¬†in another old blog that I don‚Äôt think anybody sees. ¬†So I gave it its own platform,¬†where it has the chance to steal the show in a post of its own.

And if pray tell¬†YOU somehow¬†managed¬†to stumble your way here, I hope you will find the trip¬†to my little dead-end was worth the trouble, on either of our parts? ¬†Jeez! With¬†the odds so firmly fixed against us, I wonder what inside¬†me still compels¬†me to write, always, and anyways. ¬†I’m rather flabbergasted by that. ¬†And you probably are too.

Oh well my dear reader, if you’ve happened to stumble upon this blog post¬†today,¬†it’s probably a¬†miracle, and as such, I pray you¬†know¬†that it is my acquisitive aspiration to have a worthy¬†offering for you. ¬†I¬†humbly blush and hem-haw with pent-up expectation¬†for you to unearth a¬†bone¬†concealed in here somewhere. ¬†I soooo hope, with fingers crossed, that you¬†get something out of reading my words today that you can nab and chew and gnaw on, and bury in your own backyard. ¬†Just¬†imagining¬†you and your sweet little family having the same blast in your home that my sweet little family has had¬†in mine is the¬†most glorious daydream¬†in the world. ¬†May God shower His kindness upon¬†you and¬†me¬†as we bless our families with fun and feasting, and may He bless our darling¬†babies¬†with dearly cherished memories to last their whole lives through,¬†to¬†knit all our hearts together,¬†and¬†show us the¬†Father’s¬†extravagant love for¬†His people …¬†through¬†FELLOWSHIP and FEASTING … by our callow¬†human hands!

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First Things First

I keep calling it Easter, but you may call it¬†Resurrection Sunday. ¬†It’s the day Christians celebrate the empty tomb¬†and our risen SAVIOR! ¬†Why is that a big deal? ¬†Well, because by Jesus rising from the dead, He proves that we all shall rise from the dead – some to eternal life, and others to eternal damnation (a second death). ¬†The Lord Jesus rose from the grave to go into His heavenly kingdom, and to sprinkle the blood He shed here on earth onto the mercy-seat in heaven¬†– the Holy of Holies. ¬†His blood makes atonement for our sins in the Father’s eyes … ¬†IF we accept Jesus as our Savior, and allow¬†Him to be the King of our hearts and lives.

By telling you this little story I am planting a seed of faith that I hope will grow in you, and mature.

As a Bible illustration I asked my¬†little¬†kiddos to come plant “PROMISE SEEDS” all over in my yard at dusk on the eve of Resurrection Sunday, to see what those seeds would become. ¬†As they planted their promise seeds I told them the following¬†story and let our activity serve as an object lesson.

The Bible says that when we plant seeds, some will fall on rocky soil, some on the wayside, some among thorns and thistles, and some on good soil (Matthew 13:3-8). Of course the parable is using an object lesson to describe the conditions of people’s hearts and how receptive they are to the gospel. ¬†If good seed falls on good soil, the Bible says the sower will reap a harvest if he does not give up. ¬†Like apple seeds become¬†apple trees, and sunflower seeds grow to be sunflowers, gospel seeds grow up to become faith. ¬†But¬†beware, if we sow the wind (slander and gossip), for the Bible says we shall reap the whirlwind (same wind returning furiously and without mercy). ¬†We reap what we sow.

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I planned on using jelly beans for the seeds, until I found this perfect candy at Walgreens. ¬†Inside this¬†bag were smaller packets of “seeds” in various colors with scriptures written on the outsides of each packet. ¬†We read each Bible promise, then opened the packets and the girls planted their seeds in the grass all over the back yard. ¬†It was forecasted to rain that night so we didn’t water the seeds, and indeed it did rain heavily in the night, but giving the kids watering cans and letting them¬†water each other’s seeds is also a good object lesson for the scripture that says, “One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8). ¬†God indeed causes seeds of faith to grow.

The next morning when our grandchildren arrived after church, we first took pictures of them in their beautiful Sunday best, and then handed them each a basket to gather in their harvests.  I directed them to the back door, and this is what they found when they stepped outside:

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Their little promise seeds had grown up into Easter eggs strewn everywhere.  Just as little chicks burst forth from their eggs in the spring and leave an empty shell behind, so did Jesus burst forth from the grave.  Eggs are a symbol of rebirth and renewal, and therefore a handy symbol of the resurrection of Christ. (Of course grandma and grandpa placed those eggs).  The egg is also a fantastic object for describing the trinity of God, three in one Рyoke, white, and shell.  Three separate parts, but also one.

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And Then…

After gathering all the eggs, our family sat down to Sunday dinner.  The eggs were saved for another activity to be done after we ate.  Every Easter features the same menu: a glazed ham, some sort of potato casserole, a cold, crunchy, sweet pea salad, and dessert.  Click this link (Easter Traditions) for the recipes.  This year dessert was a white coconut cake.  I always make plenty so we can pull out leftovers for later in the day.

The grandchildren always say the blessing, sometimes they sing it, and it is always precious to behold.

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” ¬†Mark 10:15 KJV

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Opening the Eggs

Each of the eggs, before they were tossed out on the lawn, were packed with little slips of paper inside.  Each egg contained one slip, and each slip was part of a game (and there were various games).  After sharing our wonderful feast, we all gathered outside on the patio and let the kids take turns opening one egg at a time and doing what the slip of paper required.

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The Games: 

  • Resurrection Eggs: Whenever one of these eggs was opened, the story in the book that corresponded to the piece was read aloud for all to hear.
  • Guess the Picture: In this game the slips of paper featured a photograph of an object close-up which¬†the kids had to work together to try and figure out what it was a picture of. ¬†Most of the pictures were of things that were familiar to the kids and about eye high or ground level to them. Once they figured out the picture, both children¬†had¬†to run to that object and find the tokens hidden there (a different colored token for each kid). ¬†Upon return to the adults, they got to use their tokens to purchase one prize¬†each from grandmas prize bin (the normal kinds of things what would be featured in an Easter basket: candy, small toys, small games, cookies, coloring books, story books, stuffed animals, jewelry and hair things, etc.).
  • Binoculars I-Spy:¬†because my grands love the binoculars too much, in this game they had to use the binoculars to find objects hidden in plain sight but in far away places (such as a cardboard dove¬†tacked to a tree, or a Jesus cross tacked to the fence, or a tomb tacked¬†to the big stone, or a Jesus fish dangling from a fishing pole down by the river). ¬†A message on the backside told the kids what their special prize was for finding it (lunch with the child at their school that week, and ice cream treat to keep or give away).
  • Puzzle Pieces: In this game they needed¬†to set aside the pieces until they found all of them, and then tape the pieces¬†together to complete a picture. ¬†On the other side of the picture was a clue about the picture and what might be hidden there. ¬†(For example, one puzzle was a photograph of the rear tire of an automobile, and the clue on the back of the completed puzzle told the kids they were looking for a key to a lock. ¬†Sure enough hidden behind the tire of my car was a box, with a key inside, but what does the key go to??? ¬†They had to put another puzzle together to figure that out).
  • I-Pad Pictures: Some slips of paper directed the kids to use the tablet to take pictures of specific things. ¬†(For example one slip asked them to take a picture of grandma and grandpa hugging one of the children really tight. ¬†Another asked the child to take a picture of mom and dad making silly faces with one of the children. ¬†Another asked the kid to take a picture of all the grownups blowing bubbles).
  • Silly Dares: In this game the kids were instructed to do some silly task, like doing six¬†somersaults in the yard, or patting their head and rubbing their tummy at the same time, or breaking a confetti egg on someone’s head, or eating a cracker and trying to whistle, or singing a song in a circle with each person singing just one word of it. Or grabbing water bottles and spraying solo cups down strings in a race with each other).
  • Pencil puzzles: if your kids are older you can add in some pencil puzzles for them to figure out (secret codes, word searches, Jr. Jumble, connect the dots, etc.)

It could not have worked out more perfect for us that the last slip of paper to be gotten from an egg was the last piece to a puzzle that led the kids to look by a tree for a treasure box. Once they found it, they needed the key that they had found by my car tire to open the lock on the treasure box.  Inside they found some pretty jewelry and hair things to wear, and tokens to purchase the final grand prizes in grandmas prize bin Рwhich were bunny mums that could be planted in the yard after Easter.

*Here is the FREE PRINTABLE of the paper slips I created for our Easter Egg games 2017.  The puzzles should be printed front and back (two-sided) on one sheet of paper, and then cut into four pieces.

These are the pictures I took and used for the Guess the Picture game.  I thought you might like to use it to help you think up ideas of things to take pictures of.  Some were indoors, some were outdoors, and some were in my garage.  (L to R starting at top left: shower wall, bath mat, cow rug, wood stove, ash bucket by fireplace, inside dryer, bedside table, elliptical step, houseplant, water dispenser, fire pit, truck bumper, garbage can, mailbox, spitoon, wishing well, target pallet, big rock, outside hosebib faucet, rock pile, oak tree, fig tree, flower-pot, and chiminea).

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There is so much to do with the eggs and these slips of paper that it will take a good while to get through it all, but it will be so fun that it will be time well spent in everyone’s opinion. ¬†The kids and grown up will have a blast with it all. ¬†And I just gotta tell you… when¬†one of the kids drew the slip that instructed everyone to run around front and wave at a car driving by, we had to actually stand there for a while and just wait. ¬†Then finally to our delight a mini-van came towards us and we all waved like a bunch of crazy hillbillies. ¬†Bless the guy’s heart. ¬†He had his passenger window down and smiled and waved back at us like he knew us but just drove on by. ¬†Hee hee! ¬†Fun stuff.

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Movie Time!

When we were all done with the eggs, we refilled our beverages and the kids had a choice of either doing crafts or watching a movie, and they opted for the movie. ¬†The choice for the kids was¬†Lion of Judah animated movie (see trailer below),¬†and for the grown-ups was¬†Son of God, (but they took a little too much license with the story for my taste, so we’ll probably do the Passion of the Christ next year, if I can get through it).

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Crafts

Marshmallows & Toothpicks: I dumped a big bag of colored miniature marshmallows and a box of toothpicks out on the dining room table and just let the kids create whatever they wanted.  They were entertained for a long time.

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Decorating Eggs:  Wal-Mart this year had faux eggs in their Easter section that were perfect for decorating.  They were white and felt just like real eggs, without being real.  They even sold them by the dozen in paper egg cartons.  All the egg decorating kits worked perfectly on them.

Nail Cross Necklaces: Using regular construction nails and thin yarn, we made “God’s Eye” crosses, and then attached a long string for a necklace.

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What you will need to purchase for this celebration:

Large bag of Jelly Beans

2 dozen Colorful Confetti Eggs

1 or 2 dozen faux eggs, plus some decorating kits of your choice

About 50 plastic Easter Eggs (unless you have them leftover from a previous year)

1 Resurrection Eggs kit with booklet

Prizes, approximately 25 small somethings per child (candy, toys, games, cookies, story books, stuffed animals, kid jewelry, hair clips, nail polish, lip balm, etc.) and then one big something for a grand prize per child

Nails (one longer type and two shorter type for each cross)

Yarn or colored string

colored mini marshmallows

toothpicks

Bubbles for each adult

groceries for the feast

movies (if you don’t already have them)

What you will need to gather up from around the house for this celebration:

An I-pad or other Tablet that can take pictures with

binoculars

tape

crackers

a tool or tackle box to use as a treasure chest

a pad lock or combination lock, and chain

water guns, solo cups, and string

What you will need to make: 

Cardboard cutouts of a dove, a cross, a tomb, and a fish

SUMMER SURVIVAL GUIDE for parents & kids

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SUMMER SURVIVAL GUIDE for parents & kids

DSCN9607Summer‚Äôs comin‚Äô! Are you ready?  I came up with this blog post after using the posters (featured below) for an end-of-the-school-year bulletin board.  It garnered such incredible feedback from the parents that I thought y‚Äôall might get some use out of it too.

Honestly, I don‚Äôt know about you, but when I was a young mom, the month of May was a complete whirlwind, a blur, sooooo crazy busy with end of the school year activities, and after-school clubs and lessons and sports events winding down and gearing up, recitals, and graduations, and a yard that was totally out of control, that I didn‚Äôt know if I was coming or going, let alone think about summer.  And then, BAM, here it would be, like a brick wall on the 1604!  Instead of getting to sleep-in though, and be lazy that first wonderful morning, my eyeballs were dredged open and I was jarred out of delicious unconsciousness by a bedroom full of bouncing, wide awake kiddos huddled around my tossled bed, begging for breakfast, and quizzing me on what we were going to do that day.  Whoa!  Time-out kids!  You gotta let mama sit with a cup of coffee for about thirty minutes before you start in on me with the needy kid stuff, c‚Äômon!  Eventually we‚Äôd get into a new routine of sleeping in, being lazy, being bored, bickering and squabbling, and spending entirely too much time vegging on the couch in front of a television ‚Äď a rut that‚Äôs hard to break out of.

Soooo‚Ķ for all our sanity, I‚Äôve come up with a plan, and we‚Äôll see how long it lasts.  I‚Äôve divided the summer into the individual weekdays.  Figuring on about twelve Mondays, and twelve Tuesdays, and twelve Wednesdays‚Ķ. etc.  I came up with themes for each day (for variety), and then at least twelve activities for each day that we can check off the list.

Monday‚Äôs theme is CHORES, with age-appropriate jobs for the kids to do, which I hope will kind of earn the kids the fun being offered the rest of the week.  In fact, you could pay your kids for their chores with play money and then charge them for the activities later on.  Even fine them for whining, if necessary, but I’ll bet they’ll like having chores to do.  I know my grandkids love helping with things.  It makes them feel grown up.

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Click here for the Chores Monday FREE PRINTABLE!

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Tuesday is a physical and outdoorsy theme, to keep the kids active.

Check out this fun backyard Ninja Warrior Course a dad created for his daughter. There are lots of other plans on the Internet and on Pinterest.

Neighborhood KIDS (Bicycle/Tricycle/HotWheels) Poker Run:

1. Get your kids‚Äô friends, and their moms, together for a neighborhood kid‚Äôs poker run. Need seven moms, and at least seven kids on bikes, tricycles, or Hot Wheels. Could even do roller blades, scooters, or skateboards.  Each of the seven moms will be in charge of a card station (preferably right outside of their house ‚Äď provided all the moms live in fairly close proximity to one another), and have beverages and snacks on hand for the kids.  Each of the kids will need to bring a good, nice toy or item that they don‚Äôt want any more as their payment to play.  All the toys/items will be collected into a prize basket.

2. Plot a course. Draw a map of your neighborhood, and show the boundary lines for the Poker Run and where the stations are. Pre-arrange for seven stations where the kids will collect cards from.  A mom will be at each station.  You’ll need a deck of cards, divided into seven portions, and a portion given to each mom for each station, and a scoring sheet for each kid showing what the order of winning hands are.

The kids will ride their bikes from point A to point B along the route, and draw a card at each station.  The mom at that station will mark what the kid‚Äôs card is on their scoring sheet, offer them something to eat or drink, and send them on their way.

Basic Rules for a Poker Run: Participants meet at a pre-arranged point, and pick up details of their route and the stops they’ll need to make. Each participant is given a score card which will be filled in as they progress along the route. At each designated stop, the participants draw a card at random (or are dealt a card). The card drawn or dealt is recorded on each participant’s score card, and the winner of the event is the participant who makes the best five card poker hand (out of the seven cards they collected) at the end of the run. Normal Poker Run Events usually end with some entertainment at the designated “last stop” of the route, along with the awarding of the prizes.

There are no prizes for speed – it does not matter who is first to complete the course. It is not a race.

The winning hand is determined by standard poker hand rankings. Decide ahead of time if you will use “wild cards” and if players will be allowed to buy extra cards at any point. Some runs, for example, allow a player to replace one card in their hand by “buying” one more card at the final stop for a fixed fee.

The ‚Äúlast stop‚ÄĚ can be your house, where you have a movie set up outside for the kids to watch, or it can be a nearby ice cream truck or store, or it can be a swimming pool, or a skateboard park, or bowling alley, or gaming arcade.  Honestly, any place that kids would find fun.  The kid with the winning poker hand will get first choice from all the toys/items paid to the prize basket.  The next highest winning hand will get second choice, and so on until each kid has chosen a toy/item.   You can sweeten the pot by adding some prizes of your own (i.e. a horn for their bike, a new ball cap, or beach towel, or music CD, etc.).

There are lots of ideas for a Nature Scavenger Hunt (do a Google search, and then pick one).  If you want, its kind of fun to make plaster castings of the hoof impressions and animal tracks that you find.  You might also catch a horny toad, frog, turtle, or lizard that you could bring home and place in a terrarium for a few days.

This is how you play Frisbee Golf.

Progressive Lunch Bike Ride (or Hike)  If you know several moms in the neighborhood, or within close proximity to you and each other, ask them if they would like to get the kids together for a progressive lunch bike ride.  Each mom will host a portion of the meal (drink, sandwich, chips, carrot sticks, apple slices, dessert, etc.).  All the kids will meet at the first house for the first item of their lunch.  Then they will ride their bikes (with that mom) to the next house, for the next part of their lunch.  Both moms and the kids will then ride to the next house for the next portion of their lunch.  This continues until all the moms and all the kids have made it to the last house and eaten all their lunch.  The last house can then host an activity for the kids, like a driveway basketball game, or set up a hot wheels track, or play a backyard game of hide-and-go-seek, or play on a slip-and-slide, Croquet, volleyball or badmitten, or just do some trampoline jumping, etc. When everyone is ready to call it a day, the moms and kids can follow the course backwards to each of their houses.

A Sidewalk Chaulk Art Rally is basically just getting all the neighborhood kids together, asking them to bring their own sidewalk chaulk, giving each kid a section of the sidewalk, and putting them to the task of creating a work of art within a time limit, to be judged (or not) by the neighbors, or parents, or whomever you wish.  Provide drinks and snacks for the kids.  Be sure to take a nice photograph of each finished creation, even video the works in progress, and interview each artist.  Your local newspaper may even be interested in doing a story on your event.  You can host the rally in your neighborhood, cul-de-sac, or neighborhood park.

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Click here for the Outdoor Tuesday FREE PRINTABLE!

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Wednesday features activities to challenge their little noggins, and hopefully keep them learning. Find Summer Bridge Activities workbooks and Brain Quest workbooks at Amazon.  You can find language courses, and teach-yourself musical instrument courses online or at most libraries, or bookstores. And Walmart carries a selection of Smithsonian (science) kits in their crafts isle. And this is just one of many great places to find: Summer Reading Lists For Kids (Grades K-8)

http://www.thejennyevolution.com/ultimate-summer-reading-lists-kids-grades-k-8/

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Click here for the BrainQuest Wednesday FREE PRINTABLE!

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Thursday is all about the crafts‚Ķ‚Äėbout the crafts, and being creative and busy with their little hands.

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Click here for the Creative Thursday FREE PRINTABLE!

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Friday ends the week with lots of ways to give and serve others, because it makes us feel good to do that, and turns our focus on others instead of ourselves.

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Click here for the GiftsOservice Friday FREE PRINTABLE!

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Click here for the Saturday&Sunday FREE PRINTABLE!

 

 

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NOTE: I didn‚Äôt put anything on the posters about swimming lessons, or VBS or summer church camps, or summer movies at the local theater, or roller skating at the local rink, or bowling, which the schools usually send fliers home about at the end of the year that offer special prices and promotions.  I also stayed away from costly activities like bouncy house places, trampoline parks, amusement places, laser tag, go carts, mini golf, climbing walls, and all that sort of stuff, but you are certainly welcome to add those on to each day as you wish and can afford.   Have a fun and blessed summer y’all!

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might as unto the Lord and not men.

Ecclesiastes 9:10  &  Colossians 3:23

HayStacks for Supper

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HayStacks for Supper

This was always one of my kids’ favorite meals.  Savory Haystacks for supper, and sweet Haystacks cookies for dessert!!!!!  We were first introduced to Haystacks as a supper food when our family was invited to dinner after church.  It’s been a staple in my repertoire ever since. It’s similar to Frito Pie, but with rice and taco toppings.  And Haystack Cookies are my very favorite cookies that my mom used to make when I was a kid.  Want to butter your kids up for something?  Make them a batch of Haystacks.  You’ll have them eating out of your hand! Ha ha!

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I make my savory, Frito Taco Hay Stacks from leftover chili with beans.  See my chili recipe HERE (it’s the second recipe down in the series on that page).

Plus…

  • Cooked Rice (I love Green Chili Rice! Just make rice as directed on package, substituting chicken broth for the water, and adding a small can of green chilis)
  • 1 family size bag Fritos (regular or spicy)
  • Make a pico-de-gallo with equal parts diced tomato, diced green onion, and diced fresh jalapeno (stems and seeds removed); add some chopped cilantro, the juice of one lime, and a pinch of kosher salt
  • Chopped Romaine lettuce
  • Chopped jumbo black olives
  • Chopped jalapenos (fresh or pickled)
  • Chopped avocado  (or guacamole)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Make a dressing of equal parts salsa and sour cream

To serve:

Place a handful of Fritos on each person’s plate

Top Fritos with a serving of rice

Ladle on some warmed up leftover chili

Top the chili with cheese, lettuce, avacado, pico, cilantro, and black olives

Pour dressing on top

ENJOY!!!!

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1 (11-oz) pkg Butterscotch baking chips

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts

1 (12-oz) pkg La Choy chow mein noodles

Melt butterscotch chips in the top pot of a double boiler (bottom pot should have a few inches of water and be brought to boiling), stirring constantly.

Once chips have melted, remove pan from heat and stir in peanut butter and peanuts. Add chow mein noodles and toss gently to coat them all over completely. Drop by spoonfuls onto a foil lined cookie sheet. Allow to cool and set up before serving. May be refrigerated to hasten the cooling/setting up process in warm climates.

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”  

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 (KJV)

 

FUN and GAMES

A fun after-supper game for the kids… Make a giant straw haystack in the back yard and hide it full of plastic Easter eggs.  One Easter Egg can have a slip of paper inside with a picture of a needle on it.  Whoever finds “the needle in the haystack” will win a special prize.  All the other eggs can have candy, or trinkets, or even puzzles to solve – or that will lead them on a treasure hunt, or dares for the finder to act out in them.  The kids will have so much fun finding the needle in the haystack, solving puzzles, searching for treasure, and acting out the dares!!!  And when they are done, they’ll have a blast piling the hay back into a heap and pouncing into it over and over again.  Great activity for when you want to have guests with kids over.  The grown ups can gather around a fire while the kids are over yonder playing in the hay!

 

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  Mark 10:25

 

Did you know…

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Mrs H’s Mexican Street Corn

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Mrs H’s Mexican Street Corn

If you’ve never had it, you are about to meet¬†your new favorite food. ¬†You’ll be dreaming of it. ¬†In fact, as soon as fresh corn-on-the-cob starts showing up in your grocery store, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you will probably eat corn three times a week for the first month. ¬†I’ll almost bet you’ll never want corn-on-the-cob any other way!!!!!!! ¬† I’m ruined too!!!!

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  • 8¬†ears fresh¬†sweet corn (leave the husks and stems on)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp¬†Mexican crema (my grocer carries two types, a sweet cream type,which tastes like heavy whipping cream, and a sour cream kind. Both have a slightly thicker consistency than whipping cream)
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija or Queso Fresco cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I make my own blend, see recipe below)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, mashed and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 or 5 limes, cut into wedges

I grilled my corn in the husks on the grill, turning about every 5 minutes until charred on all sides, and then I pulled the husks down over the stems (using oven mitt to protect my hands from burning) and returned the corn to the grill for a short time (about 3 minutes) to give the kernels that charred effect. ¬†I left the husks attached for a decorative effect, but now as I look at these photos I’m thinking they might have been even cuter if I had tied something around each husk, like a piece of raffia or something, to bundle them together and anchor them to the stems, turning them into¬†decorative “handles.” ¬†NOTE: The corn can also be shucked and “grilled” in the oven at 425 degrees F, turning about every 7¬†minutes or so until cooked all the way around. ¬†Once it is cooked on all sides and has some charred spots it’s time to dress it up.

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While the corn is grilling, mix together the mayo (please don’t use¬†the fat-free stuff. ¬†I know it may be healthier for you, but really, you must live a little!!!), crema, garlic, and add about 1/4 tsp of the chili powder.¬†¬†Juice and zest a couple of the limes and then add the juice and zest to the mayo mixture. ¬†Toss in about half of the crumbled cotija (Queso Fresco). ¬†Mix well and keep in fridge until ready to use. ¬†Cut the remaining limes into wedges and save for serving.

As soon as the corn is grilled, spread each cob with a generous amount of the mayo mix on all sides. Don’t be chincy. ¬†Follow with a sprinkling all around¬†of chili powder, and then cheese crumbles. ¬†Sprinkle some¬†cilantro on top, and a few extra sprinkles of the cheese. ¬†Serve immediately with a wedge of lime for each cob!

You’ve died and gone to heaven, right? ¬†I’m there with ya!!!!!!

 

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Colleen’s Homemade Chili Powder

  • 3¬†Ancho Chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 3¬†Cascabel/Guajillo chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 4¬†Arbol/Cayenne chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 2 Pasilla chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 2¬†New Mexico Red chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon hot Paprika

Place the chiles and cumin seeds in a saute pan or cast iron skillet and toast over medium heat about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and place in a glass bowl to cool completely.  Once cool, place in a blender, along with the other ingredients and process until a fine powder. Allow the powder to settle for several minutes before lifting the lid.  Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.  Use for making chili, to season corn, or in BBQ sauces and dry rubs.

 

“And it came to pass on a second solemn Sabbath, that He went through the corn fields, and His disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, and rubbed them in their hands.” ¬†Luke 6:1 (Geneva Bible)