Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Caution: Change Ahead!

Change is all around us. The leaves are gone and have left bare trees swaying in the wind.  I'm going to have to re-write the date a few dozen times until I finally remember to write 2014  2015.  My first tiny newborn will be a grown-up 4 year old in just a matter of weeks!

I'm sure you see changes daily as well.  You and your little one have learned new signs.  You've learned about, watched for, and met all kinds of milestones.  You're a better mom, dad, grandparent, caregiver, etc. than you were yesterday.

Change isn't always easy.  Sometimes it's scary.  Sometimes it's exciting.

I am elated to be able to share some very exciting changes coming in 2015!

As of January 1, 2015,  I will be coming to you via Signing With Miss Steph, LLC! 

Let me first assure you that there will be NO CHANGES to the content of the classes I am offering. The Signing Smart Beginner Play Class, the Signing Smart Workshop for Early Communication, and the Signing Smart Workshop for Long Term Learning will continue to be the same wealth of information they have always been.
So, what is changing? Here are some of the highlights:
  • New, more affordable, pricing for private groups
  • Expanded private class/small group availability
  • Baby showers
  • Birthday parties
  • Fundraising for your organization
  • 1:1 tutoring for play class and workshop graduates
  • And More
One other important change will be a new e-mail address. From here forward, please use SigningWithMissSteph@Gmail.com to reach us via e-mail. Other contact info will remain the same:

Come see how much fun we have while we learn! Join us for a FREE preview class January 10 at 9:30 at Footnotes Dance Center - 9433 Olde Eight Road Northfield, OH 44067.  You can learn about what Signing Smart has to offer families and caregivers, hear about what's coming in the new year, ask questions, meet new friends, and have lots of fun! You will also have the chance to register for the 8 week play class starting January 17 at a reduced rate! (RSVP to SigningWithMissSteph@Gmail.com)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Festive Autumn Cookies

As I was preparing some fun Thanksgiving cookies for my boys to take to their pre-school Thanksgiving luncheons, I was thinking that it could have been a fun activity to let them participate in.  Now, I needed several dozen of these guys, and they needed to be consumed by people outside of my immediate family, so I chose to complete the project without help this time.

I definitely held onto to all of the extra parts and pieces so we could pull this out as a fun activity over Thanksgiving break, though!  I even convinced Mr. I. to let me take pictures of him signing most of the ingredients.  Even though Thanksgiving has passed for this year, these are signs that might come in handy if you're doing or enjoying some holiday baking!

I decided to make two different kinds of treats for the FEAST this year:  turkeys and acorns.







The acorns were super simple to make and wildly popular at the preschool luncheon. The hardest/most time-consuming part was unwrapping all the chocolate kisses!

They're made with 3 ingredients and held together with icing: mini vanilla wafers (COOKIE), chocolate kisses, and mini chocolate chips (CHOCOLATE).

The C makes a small circle on the top of your opposite hand.

Your hand rotates twice in the palm of the other hand.

I used store-bought icing and placed it in a piping bag with a writing tip attached.  I used the smallest tip I had.  (After trying a larger tip, I realized that too much icing would just squish out and make a mess.)

Once all the kisses were unwrapped, I "glued" each one to the flat side of a mini vanilla wafer.  I needed a whole bunch, so I just did the whole bag worth of chocolate kisses....it would be just as easy to do only a few too, though!

Once all the kisses were attached to the cookies, I went back and did the same to the rounded side of the cookie with a mini chocolate chip. ( A little trick I found helpful was to set the icing bag in a cup when I wasn't using it - it seemed to help it from "leaking.")

It took a bit of time for the icing to set - putting the tray in our cold garage helped!  These don't need to be refrigerated, but we found that keeping them in the fridge or garage helped keep the acorns from sliding apart as the icing warmed and thinned.


This treat was a little more complicated to put together, but well worth it for the smiles they brought.

This project used chocolate sandwich cookies with "extra stuffing" (COOKIE), candy corn, and malted milk balls (CANDY). To decorate the faces, I used store bought white icing, red "writing icing" and food-safe markers.

The first step was cutting the malted milk in half so they had one flat side.  I thought a serrated knife would work best for this, but found that knife chipped off much of the chocolate coating.  In the end, we found that the long, thin knife from our butcher block worked best.

Next, I stuck 5 candy corn "feathers" into the icing of each cookie. If any of the cookies popped off, I just used some icing to stick them back together.

Once everyone had feathers,  it was time to go back to the halved malted milk balls - our turkeys' faces.  I used the same tiny icing bag tip for this.  When I tried a larger tip, I found that icing leaked around the sides, and it looked pretty messy.

After that came the most tedious part of the process - creating orange beaks.  I used the white tips from extra candy corn and a food-safe marker.  (This step is MESSY - I had orange fingers for the rest of the day.)

With a return of the bag of icing and the itty bitty tip, it was time to glue the "beaks" onto the "faces."  Many of my beaks laked icing onto the face it was glued too. You can use a toothpick to clean up the look a bit, or just cover the white icing with a red waddle.  (I thought about using chocolate icing after the fact which might be less noticeable.)

All that was left to do was a little bit of decorating.  Two dots of white icing for eyes and a red waddle.  The very last thing I did was add black dots to the eyes with a food-safe marker.  This extra step was pretty quick and made the turkey faces look a little less creepy to me.