Dec 06

Turtle Taters

by Hannah Holt »


I was scrubbing potatoes when my four-year-old asked me to read his turtle book to him. It’s part of Scholastic’s Nature’s Children series, and we’ve been reading a few pages every day. I think I enjoy reading it as much as he does.

Well, while we were reading, my two-year-old comes into the room, rolling a pilfered potato along the floor. I thought, I bet it’d be easy to make a potato into a turtle. And it was.

Turtle Taters

  • russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise
  • baby carrots
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 350° F

2) Each potato can make two turtles. Place the potato halves face down on a greased cookie sheet and prick the back with a fork twice or thrice.

3) Brush the back of each potato with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese and a dash of salt.

4) Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

5) After removing the potatoes from the oven, arrange the baby carrots on a plate such that they are the turtle’s head, arms and tail. Put a potato half over the carrots. If desired, you can add ketchup eyes and serve with sour cream.

The outsides of the potatoes were crisp, but not heavy and greasy like french fries. You can eat them with a knife and fork or (if the potatoes are smaller) like finger food. Go forth and play with your food!

Nov 30

More Career Paper Dolls

by Hannah Holt »


I’ve had these dolls mostly finished for about a week, but sometimes the homestretch takes the longest.

Without further delay, here are all the paper dolls I’ve made so far (click the links for the pdf version):







If you don’t see a doll you suggested, I’m still working more. Someone suggested I add a few boys in the mix, and I agree that I should. Maybe I’ll get on that for the next round. Here are the other suggestions I still have in queue:

  • Politician (president or senator)
  • Marine biologist
  • Truck driver/heavy machine operator
  • Astronaut
  • Electrician
  • CEO
  • Army general
  • Navy seal
  • Chef
  • Architect
  • Artist
  • Concert musician
  • Clergy member
  • Farmer

If I somehow missed your suggestion or if you have a new suggestion, please leave it in the comments. You can also leave comments about this project and other projects on my Facebook Page.

I hope you enjoy!

Nov 19

Bread Rolls for Beginners

by Hannah Holt »


If you’re new to baking, making rolls can seem intimidating. How many times should the dough rise? How long do I mix it? What the heck is yeast?

Today, I’m going to break roll baking down into little bite size steps. Plus, I’m going to give you a recipe that will knock the socks of your mother-in-law (even if she’s the nylon wearing kind). So buckle up. Here we go!

First, let’s tame the yeast beast by giving it a name. There are a million different kinds of yeast. The good news is you only need one kind for this recipe: FLEISCHMANN’s ACTIVE DRY YEAST. It comes in a brown bottle or in packets. Either will work. You just need at least 1 Tablespoon’s worth (just over one packet). Now there are other brands of yeast that will work, but I promised you bite-sized steps. Get Fleischmann’s. (Note: Don’t accidentally grab the “RapidRise.”)

Next, you’ll need to “wake up” the yeast. You do this by placing the yeast in a small bowl with half a cup of lukewarm water. Give it a stir. Placing the yeast in the water softens it and gets it ready to rise.

The rest of the written instructions and the recipe are listed near the end of this post, but you can watch the entire process of making roll dough here:

After you let the dough rise for 40-60 minutes, it’s time to shape them. Here are a few ways you can shape the dough:

After rising the second time, the rolls are ready to bake. Place them in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown.

Yummy, yummy! Take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack. Make sure the rolls are fully cooled before storing or they will sweat inside their container. You don’t want sweaty rolls. Yuck.

Fresh rolls are best when served within 12-24 hours (or freeze them for later).

And here’s the recipe:

White Bread Rolls

  • ½ cups luke warm water
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • ½ cups unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Put yeast in ½ c. lukewarm water, stir, and set aside.

  2. Mix 2 cups warm milk, butter, salt and sugar. Stir. Add beaten eggs and softened yeast. Stir.

  3. Add flour cup by cup to liquid mixture. The dough will become too thick to mix with a spoon after six cups of flour. Knead another 1.5 cups in by hand (or with a bread hook). You will probably not use the full eight cups of flour. (I like to have the extra half cup of flour to keep my kneading surface covered with flour.) Knead the dough for two minutes. The dough will be soft and sticky.

  4. Turn the dough into a large greased bowl (1/4 cup vegetable oil swirled around will grease it) and let rise until double (about 1 hour).

  5. Turn out on lightly floured surface and shape as desired. Cover and let shaped rolls rise another 50 minutes.

  6. Bake on greased baking sheet or in greased muffin pans in 350° oven for 15-20 minutes.

If you’re feeling up to an extra challenge, try splitting the recipe and make half white/half whole wheat molasses (molasses instead of sugar). Then I twisted the two roll doughs into kaiser rolls, like this:

Roll dough is like play-doh for adults. Happy roll making!

Nov 14

Turkey Craft

by Hannah Holt »


My kids and I experimented yesterday to see if we could turn a few common items into a turkey craft. These were our favorites.

The tissue roll turkey:

The roadside gravel painted rock turkey:

The fallen leaf turkeys:

What else can you turn into a turkey?

It’s almost Thanksgiving in the United States. Here are a few other activities to keep your little ones busy this holiday season.

The Thanksgiving Activity Book I put together last year was quite popular. Here it is for anyone who missed it or would like it again:

Also here are nine easy Thanksgiving crafts.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 06

New to the Library: Ducks Everywhere!

by Hannah Holt »


The Lightbulb Library has a new addition.

Title: Ducks Everywhere!

Ages: 2-4

Themes: Counting; ducks; sharing; feelings

Opening: One duck in a crib…

Synopsis: Ducks keep appearing in the strangest places today– in my room, at the table. Some ducks even wear my clothes. They make me feel crowded. I wish they would go away.

A Look Inside the Making of Ducks: I used a four-year-old boy {isn’t he handsome?} and a common rubber duck to create all the characters in this story.

I used photo editing to transform one small duck into a set of giant ducks.

To do this, I took pictures of the rubber duck in a variety of lighting settings.

{Okay, I had more than one duck. I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.}

I took pictures of the boy and superimposed the ducks into the picture afterwards. Like this…

{I often used balloons as place holders for the ducks. They helped me visualize the picture’s final layout.}

Of course, I had to add shadows and reflected light from objects that weren’t there. This shot was particularly tricky because I added the ducks’ reflection into the hardwood floors.

You can watch out for ducks, too. Head on over to the free picture book library and check them out.