4th of July Cocktail

cherry margarita

Since I will need a cocktail for our 4th of July block party, I wanted to focus on a cocktail that has a red, white, or blue theme for this weekend’s new drink. Last night I tested cherry margaritas. I mentioned last week that I like tart drinks better and this one is almost perfect. Even if it did not taste that great (which it does), the color is so vibrant that people assume it is going to be delicious.

Ingredients

  • cherries (you need 15-20 for one batch)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 c. (plus a splash) of tequila
  • 1/4 c. (plus a splash) of triple sec
  • lime wedges for garnish

blending cherry margaritas

Directions

  • Make a simple syrup by adding 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a pot on the stovetop at medium heat. Do not stir, but swirl sugar water occasionally while the pot is on the stove. Remove from heat once the sugar dissolves.
  • Pit ~15 cherries and put them in a blender. You can do more or less cherries depending on your taste. Add tequila, triple sec, 1/2 cup lime juice, and 1/2 cup cooled simple syrup to the blender.
  • Blend ~20 seconds until the cherries are ground up. It will look like a dull color, but as soon as you start blending, it turns this really bright pinky red color.
  • Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a pitcher. Press the mixture around the sieve with a spatula to get as much liquid through as possible.
  • Serve margarita over ice with a wedge of lime for garnish.
  • Makes ~4 servings

cherry margarita

In Other News

A dear friend of TheRoomMom e-mailed the picture below to me. She served the Watermelon Vodka Slushie in this totally awesome watermelon keg. She said she had a few leakage problems. She picked up two more foam circles a little larger than the lock nuts to try to prevent leaking next time. My friend is visiting in a few weeks, and I will get a full report, but the materials list is below if you want to use the picture and the list to give it a try.

Materials

  • Hose Bibb, quarter turn (that’s the tap)
  • Faucet Lock Nuts (those black circles)
  • Brass Pipe Nipple 1/2″ (the piece with threads on both ends)
  • Coupling 1/2″ (what looks like a hex nut)

watermelon keg

American Girl Goes to School

American Girl DIY desk and school supplies

Miss Priss is attending an American Girl camp this week, which got my creative juices flowing. Since the camp is being held at a school site, I thought we could make school supplies for the dolls. Like all good mother/daughter projects, Miss Priss got bored; TheRoomMom went overboard.

I will say that the 2-ring binder requires a steady hand and a glue gun, so some of the school supply construction was beyond Miss Priss’ capabilities. She made all of the pencils and did most of the work on the pocket folders. On the horizon are some sort of camping supplies for American Girl. Project brain is already engineering fake s’mores and lanterns.

Pencil Cup with Colored Pencils

Materials

  • round toothpicks
  • Sharpie markers, various colors
  • sharp cutting tool (like an X-acto knife)
  • sandpaper
  • plastic lid from a non-aerosol bug spray bottle (these are the same lids I used for the smoothie/milkshakes)

American Girl DIY colored pencils

Directions

  • Cut the toothpicks in half and sand the cut end until smooth. 
  • With a Sharpie marker, color the very tip, leave some space, then color the base of the toothpick all the way around.
  • The proportions are a little small for American Girl, so you may want to cut the toothpick down about 2/3 to get a longer pencil than what we have.
  • Use the plastic lid as a pencil cup and place all finished pencils in the lid.

Pocket Folders

Materials

  • cardstock, variety of colors
  • paper cutter or scissors and ruler (highly recommend a paper cutter)
  • Elmer’s glue
  • little decorative stickers, scraps of paper
  • Avery labels (1/2″ x 3/4″), optional

AG pocket folder finished

Directions

  • Cut a piece of cardstock into a rectangle 5 1/2″ x 3 3/4″. Carefully fold in half and press the crease firmly.
  • Cut 2 pieces of cardstock into rectangles 1 1/4″ x 2 3/4″. These will be the pockets. If desired, cut a diagonal out of one side to make the inner pocket edge slope. We liked the pockets in contrasting colors, but you could make the pocket color and folder color match.

AG pocket folder interior

  • Put a thin line of glue around the bottom and outside edge of the pocket piece. Press each pocket piece onto the interior bottom of the left and right side of the folder. Let dry. Remember to leave the top and center sides unglued, so you can add papers to the pockets.
  • Cut scraps of paper into small pieces. I used some junk mail I had. Slide papers into the pockets.
  • On the exterior of the folder, decorate with mini stickers or the Avery label with a class subject written on the label.

AG pocket folder size

2-Ring Binders

Materials

  • cardstock, variety of colors
  • paper cutter or scissors (recommend a paper cutter)
  • ruler (recommend metal)
  • printer or notebook paper
  • silver jump rings (7 mm)
  • silver paint pen
  • silver colored poster board
  • Elmer’s glue
  • X-acto knife
  • hot glue gun
  • needle nose pliers

American Girl binder

Directions

  • I originally saw the the binders in this Pin.  This woman makes items for dollhouses, so the proportions were too small, but her directions are very good.
  • Cut a piece of cardstock into a rectangle 6 1/2″ x 3 3/4″. Put the piece of cardstock landscape direction on a table. Draw a line 3″ in from the left edge and 3″ in from the right edge. Using a ruler (I recommend a metal ruler), wrap and crease along the lines.

AG binder folded with center

  • Cut a piece of silver posterboard 3 1/2″ by 3/8″. Round off the ends if desired. Glue the skinny piece of posterboard to the center of the cardstock between the 2 folds. Let dry.
  • Cut 3 pieces of printer or notebook paper 5 1/4″ x 3 1/4″. Stack the 3 sheets and fold in half.
  • With the pointy end of an X-acto knife, poke a hole through the folded sheets of paper near one end. Repeat at the other end. If you want a 3-ring binder, you could poke 3 holes, but this stuff is tiny, and I think 2 holes are sufficient.

AG binder add jump ring

  • With pliers, pull open 2 jump rings. Thread the jump ring through the paper. With the pliers, close the ring.

AG binder close jump ring

  • Hold the papers with the jump rings over the skinny silver posterboard piece and eyeball where the jump rings sit. Put 2 small blobs of hot glue on the silver posterboard piece and push the jump rings into the glue. You can use a toothpick to push things around if needed. Blow on the glue to cool.

AG binder hot glue

  • It is easy to get the folded side of the papers stuck in the hot glue. I was able to peel the paper away without separating the jump rings from the glue.
  • Finally, put 2 silver dots on the outside spine with the silver paint pen to look like the screws on the outside of a binder.

AG binder finished stack

  • You can add pockets to the binders following the directions for the pockets in the pocket folder above.

American Girl DIY school supplies

Clipboard

Materials

  • flat, wooden rectangle 3 5/8″ x 2 5/8″
  • mini binder clip (I think I found these in the fancy brad fastener area at Michael’s.)

American Girl DIY clipboard

Directions

  • Paint the wooden rectangle or decorate with stickers (or both). We left ours the natural wood color and added mini stickers from the American Girl Mini Scrap Books (see below).
  • Cut paper to fit the clipboard.
  • Clip paper to the clipboard with the mini binder clip.Metal “handles” can be up or down.

American Girl store bought items

Store Bought

  • In the American Girl craft aisle at Michael’s, we found a Mini Scrap and Stuff Books set. It came with the tiny spiral notebooks and the little stickers we used on the clipboard and outside of the pocket folders.
  • I located the mini manila file folders in the gift label section of Hobby Lobby. We wrote on the mini Avery labels and attached the white label to the tab.
  • The teeny tiny envelopes with enclosed notecards were in the baby shower/party aisle at Michael’s. The package had a variety of envelope and note sizes.

American Girly DIY school supplies

Check out other American Girl crafts on this post and this post.

Summer Cocktail Series

watermelon vodka slushie

After I posted the Blackberry Vodka Lemonade last week, I decided to run a series this summer testing fruity cocktails. I am on summer vacation, and my productivity levels go in the toilet unless I have some goals. This seemed like a worthwhile project, and I already had the Pinterest board for drinks that look refreshing. Last night I tweaked a recipe for a watermelon cocktail. Overall, I like tart, citrus drinks better (like a margarita), but this cocktail was pretty good.

Watermelon Vodka Slushie

Ingredients

  • ~1 1/2 c. watermelon, cut into small chunks
  • ~1 1/2 c. vodka
  • ~ 2 c. cranberry juice
  • Sprite, 7up, or gingerale
  • crushed ice

watermelon vodka

Directions

  • Add watermelon chunks to vodka and let it steep for about an hour. After about an hour, blend the vodka and watermelon until it is a slushie consistency. I used an immersion blender, but you could use a regular blender.
  • Add equal parts cranberry to the vodka mixture. I had ~2 c. watermelon vodka and added 2 c. cranberry.
  • Fill glass with crushed ice. Pour watermelon vodka cranberry mixture over ice. Fill about 2/3 full.
  • Add a splash of Sprite, 7up, or gingerale on top.

watermelon vodka mixHere are options I am considering for next weekend. Anyone have any opinions?

  • Cherry Margarita
  • Raspberry Lemon Drop
  • something called a Paradise

So That’s How You Spell It

grocery list

This is the grocery list Miss Priss gave me. Can anyone guess what we need from the store?

I always have a student who is a poor speller. There are kids who just never get the hang of the common patterns in the English language. I think our use of text speak and lack of handwriting practice is partly to blame, but I will save that discussion for another post.

I have a few tricks to help my students with common spelling errors, and I give some practice work for the summer too. In the age of spell check, correct spelling will be about recognizing the best way to spell a word rather than having to generate the correct spelling from memory.

If your child needs some practice over the summer or some reminders when school begins again in August, try a few of these spelling tactics. Your son or daughter might not be heading to the National Spelling Bee, but they might catch a few more errors in their writing.

Use What is Already There

  • I often have students misspell words that appear in the test or assignment. Practice looking back through a paper and comparing your spelling to words that are provided in questions or directions or even a word bank.
  • This strategy can also be useful if a child sees a word that rhymes. Rhyming words may have the same spelling pattern and the base part of the word can be copied. If you can spell rock, you might be more likely to spell sock with the CK ending. 
  • The same tactic would work if a child needs to change an ending on a word. If you see the word humid and need to write humidity, a child could make a reasonable guess using the original word given.

copying paragraphs

Practice Copying Words Correctly

  • The more often you spell a word correctly, the more likely you will spell it correctly in the future. There is muscle memory, and your hand memorizes the way letters connect (which is why cursive handwriting is important IMO). Think about writing your name. When I got married, it took awhile to retrain my hand not to automatically begin the letters of my maiden name.
  • If your child’s handwriting is really poor, and you have moved on to keyboarding, you can complete this same activity on the computer, although I think the act of handwriting is more effective.

Practice Adding Endings to Words

  • This is a great reminder about the spelling rules that we are taught directly or pick up through reading. Start with a base word like hop. Add a variety of endings and say aloud why/how the word changes. Hop becomes hopped, hopping, hops. For the ED and ING endings, we doubled the final consonant to protect that vowel sound. For the S ending, we did not need to protect the vowel sound because we were adding the consonant S. In this case, look at the word hoping. How is it pronounced? Why? What is the difference between hopping and hoping.

Practice Locating Mistakes

  • Look at a sentence or small paragraph with errors. Find the errors and make the necessary corrections.

Here are some other 4th grade tips for words that are often confused.

Separate

  • There is A RAT in the middle of the word sepA RATe.

Affect v. Effect

  • Affect is a verb (action– also starts with A). It will often have a helping verb nearby. If you can’t remember your helping verbs, I have a list here in the grammar plan. The storm did AFFECT our electricity.
  • If the word has ED on the end,  it should probably be AFFECT. We were AFFECTED by the power outage. This example also has the helping verb clue.
  • Effect is a noun. It will often have A, AN, or THE nearby and be the subject of the sentence. The EFFECT of the storm was devastating.

Desert v Dessert

  • Desert is a dry place because of little rainfall.
  • Dessert is the yummy treat you have after a meal. It has two S’s because you want two servings!

Their, They’re, or There

  • Their is possessive; it shows ownership. If you can replace their with the word his or her, and the sentence makes sense, use THEIR. We went swimming at their pool. We went swimming at his pool.
  • They’re means they are. Read the sentence with the words they are. If it sounds right, use the contraction. They’re swimming at the neighbor’s pool. They are swimming at the neighbor’s pool. In fact, any time you are dealing with a contraction, use the complete words to check yourself. The replacement word test for their and they’re will work when checking it’s and its. Try using it is and his or her.
  • There is a location. If the replacement words used above sound funny, use THERE. You can also sometimes replace there with at that placeWe will be swimming there. We will be swimming at that place.

Too

  • Too has an extra O because you have more, extra.
  • If you can replace too in a sentence with also or so, you probably need TOO. That soup is too hot, and it burned my tongue. That soup is so hot, and it burned my tongue. I want to eat soup too. I want to eat soup also

I have teaching materials for commonly misspelled words, spelling rules, and spelling patterns. To purchase spelling resources from my TeacherPayTeacher store, CLICK HERE.

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