Play Right: Kids Puzzles Inspire Educational Fun

At New Jammies, we love those special quirky holidays that help us celebrate the obscure.

Like National Bubble Wrap Day on Jan. 26 every year, where popping bubble wrap all day to relieve stress is perfectly acceptable. Or Strawberry Day on Feb. 27, when strawberry shortcake is sure to be enjoyed across the nation. Grammar Day on March 4 is the sure to be the day when grammar fanatics can go around correcting people’s use of your vs. you’re and their vs. there. Improper punctuation is also fair game for correction on Grammar Day.

As January comes to a close, we celebrated National Puzzle Day with a fun selection of some of our favorite online finds for helping kids learn about everything from shapes to the United States. This unofficial holiday, always celebrated on Jan. 29, is a tip of the hat to games enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. Puzzle celebrations and events are hosted at venues nationwide including community libraries, art centers and museums. Whether they are jigsaw, crossword, word scramble, Sudoku or memory games, puzzles are fun and educational.

Here are a few of our favorite kids’ puzzles available online. We suggest kids snuggle up in a warm pair of New Jammies and let their minds do the rest:

©Manzanita Kids, LLC

©Manzanita Kids, LLC Train Puzzle

Manzanita Kids
Manzanita Kids heirloom quality toys are handcrafted in Seattle and feature simple, durable, tactile and imaginative designs, quality materials and fine craftsmanship. The company’s eco-friendly philosophy features American hardwoods purchased from local source enhanced and protected with beeswax and organic jojoba oil, applied and polished by hand. Manzanita Kids products are featured at the Museum of Modern Art and the Dia Art Foundation in New York, Kidspace Children’s Museum in California and Kohl’s Children in Illinois and can be purchased online. Manzanita’s wood puzzles help children develop problem-solving skills, spatial reasoning and confidence. We love their fun five-piece train puzzle, as part of the transportation series, made from maple, cherry and walnut with a homemade organic jojoba oil/beeswax finish. Order online at http://www.manzanitakids.com/puzzle/train-puzzle.

My First Green Toys® Shape Sorter

My First Green Toys® Shape Sorter

Green Toys
Made in the California, Green Toys are classic children’s toys made from recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials. The company uses food-safe, 100% recycled milk containers, reprocessed into clean plastic, and formed into kids toys and hands-on puzzle play including the My First Green Toys Shape Sorter is a puzzle that helps develop recognition of shapes and colors and builds eye-hand coordination, problem-solving, and fine and gross motor skill development. The two-part elliptical Shape Sorter features eight colorful shapes (two stars, two circles, two squares and two triangles), has no BPA, phthalates, PVC or external coatings, and meets FDA food contact standards and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The puzzle is recommended for six months and up and can be ordered online at http://www.greentoys.com/my-first-green-toys-shape-sorter.html.

© 2015 Melissa and Doug

© 2015 Melissa and Doug Alphabet Sound Puzzle

Melissa and Doug
Headquartered in Connecticut, the Melissa and Doug toy company was founded more than 25 years ago in a garage of the owner Doug’s childhood home. Today, the company offers more than 2,000 innovative products for children of yttrium all ages. Melissa and Doug puzzles range from simple wooden jumbo knob puzzles to complex 500-piece cardboard jigsaw puzzles to help build fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and problems-solving skills. We love the Melissa and Doug alphabet and number puzzles, featuring activities where kids can play and learn, hands-on. The 26-piece Alphabet Sound Puzzle pronounces the correct name of each letter when placed correctly. Pieces are slightly raised above the puzzle board for easy grasping. Colorful pictures under each piece reinforce the relationship between letters and their sounds. Buy at: http://www.melissaanddoug.com/alphabet-sound-learning-puzzle.

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Eat Right: New Jammies Favorite Homecooking Foodie Sites

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For most, winter means it’s cold outside. And we all know when it’s cold, a cozy pair of pajamas and a home-cooked meal warms the body — and the soul. The team at New Jammies loves searching the web for hearty comfort food made from scratch during the winter months, and all year-long. These are a few of our favorite foodie sites featuring made-from-scratch recipes with fresh fruits and vegetables, hearty spices, and, most importantly, love:

1. Jamie Oliver
http://www.jamieoliver.com
English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is on a mission. Backed by a petition signed by hundreds of thousands and international crowd support, he is leading the Food Revolution against obesity in the U.S. By working with kids, parents and schools, Chef Oliver is waging a full-on attack on obesity fueled by the prevalence of processed foods and the decline in cooking food from scratch at home. His recipe below for easy corn chowder is healthy-hearty because he uses flour with skim milk to create the creaminess instead of heavy cream or lots of butter.

Editor’s Note: One great way to add thick and creaminess to a soup without fat is puree some of the soup and add it back in to the soup. Works well with veggie soups or can be done before adding a meat or pasta into a soup.

Corn Chowder
Ingredients:
1 stalk celery
1 medium onion
Olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon plain flour
840 ml semi-skimmed milk
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into little cubes
3 spring onions
175 g frozen corn
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped, or parsley

Method:
Pull the leaves from the celery stalks and set them aside. Chop your celery and onion. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the celery (not the leaves), onion, and thyme. Stir until the vegetables start to brown. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir for a few more minutes. Pour in the milk, add the potato and bring to a boil, stirring the whole time so the soup doesn’t stick to the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy – this will take around 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the celery leaves, trim the ends off the spring onions and slice them thinly. When the potatoes are tender, stir in the corn, spring onion and celery leaves. Bring the soup back to the boil, then serve. This is delicious with a crusty brown roll or a Parmesan crisp.

Jamie’s top tips:
Frozen corn is fantastic and it’s always a useful ingredient to have in the freezer – it can be used in soups, vegetable dishes, salsas and salads.
If you wanted to make this more of a main meal you could always add some fresh or smoked fish or maybe even a handful of shellfish. Add them at the same time as you add the corn and make sure they are cooked through before you serve.
Chives and parsley are great in this soup but you can also finish it with spring onion tops or even crumbled crackers.
Whenever you’re simmering a thick soup or stew, be sure to reach into the corners when you stir so no nasty bits get stuck and burn.

Read more at http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/corn-chowder/#cJUOm7Sl1CJxR8PR.99

2. The Pioneer Woman
http://thepioneerwoman.com
Ree Drummond, known in most circles as The Pioneer Woman, is a ranch wife and mother, food blogger, TV host, writer and creator of some of the best feel-good food this side of the Mississippi. Her food has just that right blend of kick and comfort, and her easy-to-follow recipes include step-by-step instructions, complete with gorgeous photography. We love her sweet, home-on-the-range style and adventurous approach to home-cooked family meal planning for hard-working, food-loving families.

3. Peter Berley
http://www.peterberley.com
Peter Berley has dedicated his 30-year career to home cooking with a sustainable food focus. He makes his own cheese and bakes homemade bread when he’s not growing organic gardens, whipping up vegetarian recipes for his cookbooks, and teaching in-person and online classes. Berley’s book titles include “The Flexitarian Table” and “The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen,” featuring recipes simply made with short lists of fresh ingredients.

4. Rachael Ray
http://www.rachaelrayshow.com
Recipes with garlic aren’t the only reason to read Rachel Ray’s cookbooks and watch her popular daytime talk show and Food Network programming. She’s a lot of fun to watch, and learn from, and a genius with this much-loved species in the onion genus. We’ve all heard about the benefits of garlic — building up immune systems, growing gorgeous hair, clearing up acne and curing the common cold, to name a few — and Rachel’s recipes usually help us welcome more garlic into our diets and lives. Just typing in the word “garlic” in the Rachael Ray Show’s website search bar pulls up 2,027 results. We agree with Rachael: Garlic is king!

5. Sunny Anderson
http://www.sunnyanderson.com
Sunny Anderson is a foodie friend of the Rachael Ray Show, and we would love her to be a friend of ours. She’s a breath of fresh air to cooking shows, and seems like the kind of person you want to go on vacation with, or maybe at least share a dinner. The “What’s New” section of her website is chock-full of comfort food for home-cooking we would love to whip up in the wintertime. Fresh examples include her Spinach Tortellini with Onions, Sage and Pecans, an Open-faced Plum Tart, and the Mean-Green Cucumber Juice. Thanks for the fabulous flavors, Sunny!

6. What Amy Ate Today!
http://whatamyatetoday.blogspot.com
Amy from New Jersey is the author of this fun foodie blog dedicated to “making healthy eating easier with useful tips, recipes and recent health news.” She has some great funky recipes and good reads. A recent post included this hearty recipe for Veggie Curry with Yogurt, which is probiotic-filled and veggie-heavy with onion, zucchini, carrots, chick peas, and acorn squash:

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Veggie Curry with Yogurt
Ingredients:
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 zucchini, diced
Sprinkle of garlic powder
1 cup carrots, grated
1 cup chick peas (if canned, rinsed/drained)
1/3 cup Trader Joe’s Red Curry Simmer Sauce
1 acorn squash

Method:
In a hot pan heat oil, onion and zucchini, until beginning to brown. Sprinkle on the garlic powder, stir for a minute or so then add the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook an acorn squash in the microwave – making sure to rinse, dry, and poke it all over with a knife first, so the air can escape. Cook for 6 minutes, turn and do another 4 minutes. You may need to cook less or more depending on its size – but basically keep going until its soft. Then cut in half, scoop out seeds and remove the flesh.

Your meal is ready to plate. Start with 1/2 cup of the acorn squash. Top with 1 cup of the curry veggies. Add 2 tbsp of plain nonfat yogurt to cool it off and give it some creaminess.

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New Jammies would love to hear from you! In 2015, we want to blog on topics you want to read. If you have any blog ideas about eating right, playing right and sleeping tight, let us know at our contact form at https://newjammies.com/index.php?route=information/contact.

If we choose your idea for our next blog, you can win a pair of New Jammies!