Count Your Blessings Craft

Gratitude Jars

It’s so important to count your blessings! Our Blessings Jar began several years back on November 1s. We would nightly write what we were thankful for on a slip of paper and place it in the “Blessings Jar” that rested on the kitchen table. We would watch our blessings grow as the jar became fuller and fuller. One evening, my daughter asked if she could write more than one blessing to be placed in the jar. Of course!  Write down all your blessings.   

On Thanksgiving ,we would read what everyone had written in the weeks prior. However, one Thanksgiving about two years ago, we visited our out-of-town family for Thanksgiving and didn’t bring our Blessing Jar with us. Upon returning home, my oh-so-smart daughter said “let’s not read them but wait till New Year’s Eve and watch the jar get fuller.”   

Our once Thanksgiving Blessings Jar is now an Everyday Blessing Jar. On January 1st we empty the jar to remember all our Blessings from throughout the year. I have to admit it was a GREAT way to start the new year. As we eat dinner each of us choose a “blessing” (slip of paper with a blessing written on it) from the jar, read it aloud then passed the jar to next person to continue till the jar was empty and our hearts were full.   

I was in complete awe listening to what others found important, blessed or special in the months prior.  There were even days and events that I had forgotten. Not only was this a great way to “count our blessings” but also a nice revisit to the special and everyday events we all encountered.  

When we were finished revisiting our blessings, I place the small blessings paper in a special envelope marked “2013 Blessings.” In the years to come, it will be fun to return to the envelop to listen to our blessings and see our child’s handwriting, vocabulary and spelling evolve.

I look forward to watching the jar fill, grow and runneth over with love and gratitude for all our blessings.

Join our tradition of the Blessings Jar.

  • Choose a jar of your choice – mason jar, recycle jelly jar, pretty jar from the store…  look for something that speaks to you.
  • Decorate your jar with your favorite colors, ribbon, yard, stickers. Be creative. Make it yours.
  • Place paper and pen next to your jar to record your daily blessings.
  • Or place a stone, marble or trinket into the jar every time they feel blessed to watch their blessing grow.  

Make this project yours. We would love to hear what you do or see a photo of your blessings jar. May you be blessed with love and gratitude,


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Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Vegan Pumpkin SoupVegan Pumpkin Soup

You’ll need a cookie sheet, a food processor or immersion blender (OR a good hand-masher and some patience), a soup pot, and an oven for this soup. You’ll also need an adult to help with cutting, baking, and cooking on the stove top!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 2 pie pumpkins (2lb or less each)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons curry powder (you can substitute half or all curry powder with Seven Spice powder – I do half and half)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 cup coconut milk + 2T for garnish
  • Salt to taste
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Chopped parsley garnish optional

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Cut the tops off the pie pumpkins and scoop out the seeds and strings. Try not to scoop out solid flesh. Roast the pumpkins (top included) for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool, then carefully scoop soft meat out of pumpkin, taking care not to puncture the skin if you want to use the pumpkin as a bowl.

Add chopped scallions, spices, and olive oil to a saucepan or cooking pot and stir over medium heat until spices are fragrant, then add vegetable stock and ½ of the pumpkin flesh (all the flesh from one pumpkin).

Bring to a boil, then turn heat off. Allow to cool a little, then use immersion blender to puree. If you’re using a food processor, you need to let it cool down a lot before pureeing. You can also use a potato masher to squash all the squash, if you want your soup chunkier and more stew-like.

Add the rest of the pumpkin (cut into bite sized pieces), bring the soup to a boil again, turn down to simmer for 5 minutes, turn off heat, add coconut milk. Garnish with parsley, roasted pumpkin seeds, and a dollop of coconut milk.

To make the pumpkin seeds: Take all the pumpkin meat and gooey strings away until the seeds are mostly clean. Put them in a colander and run water over them, stirring them with your hands until all the pumpkin flesh is rinsed away. Pat them with a paper towel and spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry completely, then toss in a little olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon) and season with 1 teaspoon salt and your choice of other seasonings. I like to use spicy seasoning, like smoked paprika and Aleppo hot chili, but you can use whatever you like! Spread the seeds out again on the cookie sheet so they are in a single layer, and bake at 250F while you’re making the soup. Bake until seeds start to turn golden and are as crispy as you want them.

This recipe sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually very easy. It’s a good teamwork exercise and looks fancy-pantsy for the holidays! If you’re not in a curry mood or don’t like spicy food, you could use nutmeg, sage, or other fragrant spices to season your soup.

While I was making this soup, I also cut my white fairtytale pumpkin (also called Ghost or Lumina) into slices and roasted it, too, so I can puree the roasted quash in a food processor and use it for my holiday breads and pies. Look at this beautiful pumpkin: white on the outside and pretty orange on the outside!


Squash is Awesome

Squash is used mostly by cooks as a vegetable because it goes well with savory spices – meaning, flavors that make up salty or spicy dishes, instead of sweet dishes. If you’ve ever had pumpkin pie or zucchini bread, you will know how sweet and tasty squash can be as a dessert, too! It is classified as a fruit because the seeds are inside. Vegetables are all the other parts of the plant, like stems, roots, and leaves.

Squashes include winter and summer squash, and gourds. Did you know that all the parts of the squash plant are edible? That’s awesome! Tender shoots and leaves can be cooked into soups and stir fry dishes, as well as the blossoms (which are delicious battered and deep fried, or tossed in a little oil and seasoning and pan fried).

Summer squash types include zucchini, yellow (or summer) squash, and pattypan squash. These types of squash have a very thin skin and don’t last for more than a week or so after you’ve removed them from the vine.

Winter squash types include pumpkin, butternut squash, Delicata squash, and lots more. You can tell a winter squash from a summer squash because winter squash has a very thick, tough, inedible rind (or shell) on the outside. Decorative gourds fall into this group, though they are not always edible – some calabash varieties are poisonous in high concentrations (meaning, if you eat a large amount). While you can technically eat most of the decorative gourds you see in the grocery store, their flesh is very bitter, so we usually use them for fall decorations or crafts that involve allowing the middle of the gourd to dry out and using the hollow shell for anything from shakers (like a maraca), to birdhouses, to bowls and carrying baskets. With gourds and many other plants, that bitter taste is often nature’s way of saying, “you should avoid eating me.”

The word “squash” comes from the Massachuset (a tribe of people indigenous to North America) word askutasquash. Most squash originated in South and Central America, where it was then spread by human and animal migration to other continents, including North America. Calabash gourds, which are sometimes hollow, originated in Africa, and scientists believe they spread not only through migration, but also by hollow gourds full of seeds floating across the ocean. That is a long journey! If you look on a map and find East Africa, then find your house, how many miles would a gourd have to travel to get from its original home to you?

Summer squash grow all summer long and are plucked from their vines as they ripen through the whole summer. Winter squash also grow in the spring and summer seasons, but the biggest harvest comes in the fall. The reason they are called winter squash is because their rinds are so durable that, if they are not damaged or punctured, you can keep them all winter long! Squash become more bitter the longer they sit, though, so if you’re cooking with them you’ll want to do it soon after you buy or harvest them.

I used folded note cards to label the winter squash I have — but not just because I needed something to write on. If you’re cooking with winter squash and want to save seeds for your garden, you can label them, use tape to enclose the dried seeds in the paper, and store them in a cool (not freezing) place until you’re ready to plant them. If you have a patch of dirt or a nice big pot that isn’t occupied, try growing some of these yourself, and experiment with all the fun and tastiness squash has to offer!

 

Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Vegan Pumpkin SoupYou’ll need a cookie sheet, a food processor or immersion blender (OR a good hand-masher and some patience), a soup pot, and an oven for this soup. You’ll also need an adult to help with cutting, baking, and cooking on the stove top!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 2 pie pumpkins (2lb or less each)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons curry powder (you can substitute half or all curry powder with Seven Spice powder – I do half and half)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 cup coconut milk + 2T for garnish
  • Salt to taste
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Chopped parsley garnish optional

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Cut the tops off the pie pumpkins and scoop out the seeds and strings. Try not to scoop out solid flesh. Roast the pumpkins (top included) for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool, then carefully scoop soft meat out of pumpkin, taking care not to puncture the skin if you want to use the pumpkin as a bowl.

Add chopped scallions, spices, and olive oil to a saucepan or cooking pot and stir over medium heat until spices are fragrant, then add vegetable stock and ½ of the pumpkin flesh (all the flesh from one pumpkin).

Bring to a boil, then turn heat off. Allow to cool a little, then use immersion blender to puree. If you’re using a food processor, you need to let it cool down a lot before pureeing. You can also use a potato masher to squash all the squash, if you want your soup chunkier and more stew-like.

Add the rest of the pumpkin (cut into bite sized pieces), bring the soup to a boil again, turn down to simmer for 5 minutes, turn off heat, add coconut milk. Garnish with parsley, roasted pumpkin seeds, and a dollop of coconut milk.

To make the pumpkin seeds: Take all the pumpkin meat and gooey strings away until the seeds are mostly clean. Put them in a colander and run water over them, stirring them with your hands until all the pumpkin flesh is rinsed away. Pat them with a paper towel and spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry completely, then toss in a little olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon) and season with 1 teaspoon salt and your choice of other seasonings. I like to use spicy seasoning, like smoked paprika and Aleppo hot chili, but you can use whatever you like! Spread the seeds out again on the cookie sheet so they are in a single layer, and bake at 250F while you’re making the soup. Bake until seeds start to turn golden and are as crispy as you want them.

This recipe sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually very easy. It’s a good teamwork exercise and looks fancy-pantsy for the holidays! If you’re not in a curry mood or don’t like spicy food, you could use nutmeg, sage, or other fragrant spices to season your soup.

While I was making this soup, I also cut my white fairtytale pumpkin (also called Ghost or Lumina) into slices and roasted it, too, so I can puree the roasted quash in a food processor and use it for my holiday breads and pies. Look at this beautiful pumpkin: white on the outside and pretty orange on the outside!


Squash is Awesome

Squash is used mostly by cooks as a vegetable because it goes well with savory spices – meaning, flavors that make up salty or spicy dishes, instead of sweet dishes. If you’ve ever had pumpkin pie or zucchini bread, you will know how sweet and tasty squash can be as a dessert, too! It is classified as a fruit because the seeds are inside. Vegetables are all the other parts of the plant, like stems, roots, and leaves.

Squashes include winter and summer squash, and gourds. Did you know that all the parts of the squash plant are edible? That’s awesome! Tender shoots and leaves can be cooked into soups and stir fry dishes, as well as the blossoms (which are delicious battered and deep fried, or tossed in a little oil and seasoning and pan fried).

Summer squash types include zucchini, yellow (or summer) squash, and pattypan squash. These types of squash have a very thin skin and don’t last for more than a week or so after you’ve removed them from the vine.

Winter squash types include pumpkin, butternut squash, Delicata squash, and lots more. You can tell a winter squash from a summer squash because winter squash has a very thick, tough, inedible rind (or shell) on the outside. Decorative gourds fall into this group, though they are not always edible – some calabash varieties are poisonous in high concentrations (meaning, if you eat a large amount). While you can technically eat most of the decorative gourds you see in the grocery store, their flesh is very bitter, so we usually use them for fall decorations or crafts that involve allowing the middle of the gourd to dry out and using the hollow shell for anything from shakers (like a maraca), to birdhouses, to bowls and carrying baskets. With gourds and many other plants, that bitter taste is often nature’s way of saying, “you should avoid eating me.”

The word “squash” comes from the Massachuset (a tribe of people indigenous to North America) word askutasquash. Most squash originated in South and Central America, where it was then spread by human and animal migration to other continents, including North America. Calabash gourds, which are sometimes hollow, originated in Africa, and scientists believe they spread not only through migration, but also by hollow gourds full of seeds floating across the ocean. That is a long journey! If you look on a map and find East Africa, then find your house, how many miles would a gourd have to travel to get from its original home to you?

Summer squash grow all summer long and are plucked from their vines as they ripen through the whole summer. Winter squash also grow in the spring and summer seasons, but the biggest harvest comes in the fall. The reason they are called winter squash is because their rinds are so durable that, if they are not damaged or punctured, you can keep them all winter long! Squash become more bitter the longer they sit, though, so if you’re cooking with them you’ll want to do it soon after you buy or harvest them.

I used folded note cards to label the winter squash I have — but not just because I needed something to write on. If you’re cooking with winter squash and want to save seeds for your garden, you can label them, use tape to enclose the dried seeds in the paper, and store them in a cool (not freezing) place until you’re ready to plant them. If you have a patch of dirt or a nice big pot that isn’t occupied, try growing some of these yourself, and experiment with all the fun and tastiness squash has to offer!

 

Thanksgiving Story

Thanksgiving Cornucopia

MATERIALS

  • Music and music player; Suggested Music: Native American Drums, Hallelujah, (K.D. Lang), Celebrate, Colors of the Wind, (Judy Kuhn), We are Native American Tribes, (Ella Jenkins), Native American Dream, (Various)
  • Soft ball
  • Paper tree and leaves
  • Markers/crayons/pens

OBJECTIVE

To learn the story of Thanksgiving kinesthetically. To learn a Sun Salutation as an example of how people from around the world celebrate and give thanks every day.

VISUAL VIGNETTE

Prepare a paper tree and leaves. Hang the tree on the wall, and as students enter the space, have them write on the leaves what they are thankful for. Have the students tape the paper leaves onto the tree.

CONNECTING CIRCLE

  1. YogaKids Pledge
  2. Introduce the Theme – We will start celebrating around the world with yoga today. We will start in the United States, celebrating THANKSGIVING!
  3. Centering Circle – Say your name and your favorite thanksgiving food and roll a ball to another student and ask them to share. Go around the circle until everyone has shared.

POSES AS PATHWAYS/INTEGRATE THE ELEMENTS

Let’s learn about yoga first! Let’s learn yoga breathing…

  • Belly Breath
  • Take 5

Warm-up – Include any warm up poses you like here.

Volcano – Once upon a time, about 400 years ago, some English settlers were angry with their king! They were not allowed to worship the God they wanted to, so they decided to leave!

Boat – They bought a boat called the Mayflower. And sailed it across the ocean.

Waves – It was a hard journey because there were a lot of waves.

Moo and Meow and Yawn and Flop: And they did not have much room to stretch out on the boat.

Sunrise/Sunset – They were in the boat for 60 days and nights.

Tarzan’s Thymus Tap – They tried to stay healthy. But many got very sick and some died.

Child’s PoseAfter 60 days, they reached America at Plymouth Rock.

Leaf/Tree and Woodchopper – They needed to get warm, so they started to chop down the trees.

Warrior Series – They had a long, hard, hungry, cold winter, but they tried to stay strong.

Child’s Pose – When it got warm out, they needed to plant food, but the land was different here, and they had trouble. They also needed seeds.

Seed to Tree – The Native American Indians had been watching the settlers, and they decided to help. So they shared their seeds and taught them how to plant.

The settlers were so happy and the Native Americans were too, because they grew so much food, and the settlers wouldn’t have to be hungry anymore! So they celebrated! And we still celebrate that friendship and cooperation today! If we take time each day to be thankful, we are happier and healthier.

Sun Salutation – In India, many people do a Sun Salutation each day to be thankful for the sun rising each day – let’s learn it!

Cool Down – Include any cool down or closing poses here.

QUIET QUESTS

“Waves” – Guided Imagery by Maureen Murdock

As you breathe in… and… out, imagine that you are on a wave on the sea going up… and… down… up…and… down. You are perfectly safe, either lying on your back in a sailboat being gently rocked by the motion of the sea. And as you continue to move up… and… down… back… and… forth, you will notice the warmth of the sun relaxing you and feel a gentle ocean breeze. You may notice the color of the sky, the smell of the sea air, and the sound of sea birds above. You notice a sense of calm throughout your entire body as you experience the gentle rocking motion of the sea. Allow yourself to feel nurtured and supported. Think about what you are thankful for. (pause 1 minute)

Now it is time to come back. I will ring the bell 3 times. On the third time, slowly open your eyes. Now I will ring the bell 3 more times. When I ring it the third time, please slowly roll to your side. Now, begin to wiggle your toes and fingers, and when I ring the bell the 3rd time, please come to a seated pose.

CLOSING CIRCLE

Namaste Song