July 20, 2016
by jenny
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Cauliflower Pizza

Have you seen Cauliflower Pizza all over the internet and wanted to see what the fuss was about? Well, I have.

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I finally tried it. I used this Food Network recipe (link).

It was a little bit of work, not entirely that much more than proofing your own yeast pizza dough but certainly created more dirty prep dishes than making a yeast dough. This recipe- or my preparation of it – did not hold together entirely well. It looked promising enough, but didn’t stay solid. It wasn’t all that pizza-y overall. Flavor wise, it wasn’t bad, but again, not that pizza-y. My husband and I ate the final product with a fork (though some could have been picked up). It was more of a  mashed cauliflower with marinara and mozzarella. Pizza didn’t really come to mind, even when trying to think of it as pizza. We both enjoyed the leftovers heated up in a bowl mashed together not even pretending to try to be pizza the next day.

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I would try this again with a different recipe that might at least make a solid crust. I can’t imagine this ever becoming a replacement for pizza, but I can definitely appreciate it as something different to make once in a while. Do you have a cauliflower pizza crust that you like?

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As a side note, I did know pretty quickly into the process that my kids would turn their nose up at the cauliflower  (especially when they were playing outside and came into the house holding their noses at the scent of steamed cauliflower) and shifted my whole family cauliflower pizza meal plan. I pulled some Pillsbury Grands refrigerator biscuits out of the fridge and flattened those to make the kids some biscuit pizzas, which were well received and an option for a quick pizza dough.

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July 13, 2016
by sarah
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Summer = Rock Projects

IMG_2638We have enjoyed some time on the beach this summer. Beach = collecting rocks. Here are some projects we have done in the past.

Now we have been working on the alphabet. My little one painted the roughly quarter size rocks with acrylic paint.  I painted the letters on top when the backgrounds were dry.

She has been coming up with some fun games with them. For one of them she picks two letter rocks. We identify the letters, I will close my eyes, and she will hide one in each hand. Then I will open my eyes and guess where the letters are. She will open her hand and we will see if I was right.

 

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July 8, 2016
by jenny
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Lego Card Holder

We like to play a lot of games in this house.

In this house we have smaller than average hands and/or need cards laid out in front of us for the entire game to see and plan our strategy and/or get impatient at someone at the table who is laying their cards down on the table or their chair either because opponents can see their cards (and it’s hard not to look), because a player with cards in face down piles takes forever to take a turn, loses track of what is in their piles making the game not as fun, or the player who has to put their cards down regularly knocks cards onto the ground.

Whatever the the player’s situation, my mom had directed us to this amazingly fun and ingenious solution using Legos. We have had the circle style handhold card holders, but they don’t always work, cards slip out very easily upon loading or unloading, cards get covered up, and they still need to be held. We had tried to make makeshift card holders similar to the Lego style with cardboard boxes, which work okay, but the Legos work better, and are adaptable or expandable as needed, can be designed to the players tastes and can be thrown back into the Lego pile at the end of the day.

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These  holders can be used for a variety of card games, but the two games that we play regularly in our house that we find most useful to have cards laid out with easy access and visibility are Pit! and Ticket To Ride. The Lego Holders make a HUGE difference! Thank you Mom/Grandma and A Mom with a Lesson Plan!

Lego card holder perfect for little hands

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July 8, 2016
by jenny
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Young Cricket

I found a tiny cricket on my mailbox. My kids have been going through growth spurts, and I never really thought about insects going through their own. I guess I figured they game out of one life cycle phase approximately the final size, even though I have definitely seen hundreds of tiny baby spiders out of a sack and tiny aphids around a larger aphid. We have a ton of crickets around here, and it’s obviously a cricket shape, but I thought it may have been a different species.

This little guy was TINY! I used my Easy Macro Lens because he was less than 1 cm.

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Way to go little guy/girl climbing to the top of the mailbox! Watch out for the birds and toads nearby!

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July 6, 2016
by jenny
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Homemade CoffeeMate

Here’s another something I’ve seen online a bunch: Homemade CoffeeMate.

I enjoy CoffeeMate. Sometimes I drink coffee purely because I’m craving a sugar rush – this particularly applies to the Tollhouse Cookie flavor CoffeeMate and sometimes the Italian Sweet Cream. Sometimes thinking about the chemicals, calories and whatnot in the CoffeeMate grosses me out.  I’ve mostly weened myself off CoffeeMate, and drink much of my coffee black, with a little half and half, or only with a little sugar, occasionally, I still use CoffeeMate.

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Now that it’s summer vacation, and we need a little spice of excitement in our lives to start the day, I decided to finally try the Homemade Coffee Creamer recipe from Mrs. Happy Homemaker.

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The recipe has just two ingredients for the original flavor. My 10 year old came in when I was getting things prepped and ended up making it in the amount of time it took me to empty the top rack of the dishwasher (she also took these pictures!).

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We poured it in my travel mug with some coffee to head to an early orthodontist appointment. It tastes just like CoffeeMate. I think. As mentioned, I tend toward the flavored versions. Actually, it tastes like coffee with a touch of sweetened condensed milk, which is good enough.

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It’s definitely a good alternative to CoffeeMate, maybe cheaper, but definitely nice to know the ingredients in your mug!

 

 

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June 29, 2016
by sarah
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Trash

Jenny and I are good friends with lots in common, but we don’t often see each other.  Last week we bumped into each other at the local swimming whole. Believe it or not – one of the first thing we talked about was trash.  It was trash day. I was saying how proud I am that with a family of five we hardly ever fill our trash can. She said she felt the same way. We soon were comparing how we divided up the trash in our homes. We both have similar systems.

Compost – On my kitchen counter I have a bin that gets filled with vegetable skins, egg shells, apple cores, sandwich crusts…
Some plant trash I don’t compost like banana peals and peach pits. They never break down in my out side compost bin. Then I use the broken down compost to grow more vegetables in the garden.IMG_2587

Glass and Metal – Soda and beer cans and bottles, glass, milk jugs, wine bottles, fruit containers, yogurt containers…
In Massachusetts we can get five cents to redeemed the beer and carbonated beverage containers. So in the garage this pile gets separated again into redeemable and curb side recycling.IMG_2583

Paper – Newspaper and cardboard and old drawings go in to a bin for curb side recycling.IMG_2585

Plastic Bags – Drycleaner bags, deflated – inflated padding in Amazon packages, grocery bags…
Go in to a separate big bag to be dropped off at the supermarket when it is filled.

Trash – That leaves truly trash that will end up in the landfill. I’m proud to say that it on average fills up only half of the town assigned trash  a week.

 

 

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June 24, 2016
by jenny
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The Bus Stop Tree

There is a tree at our school bus stop (a few houses down from our house).

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It is an awesome bus stop tree. It not only serves as a shade from the sun, fairly efficient umbrella protection from light rain, but is a great climbing tree, and serves as a landmark for the kids to not go further into the neighbor’s property while waiting for the bus.

For the past three springs, the bus stop tree has been almost completely defoliated by winter moth inch worms. This year I was blown away and totally intrigued by the canopy it produced – a huge, thick, lush canopy.

The first thing I noticed this spring was how thick the greenery came in after the years of very very light and eaten away vegetation. The second thing I noticed was that the tree made two different kinds of leaves! TWO KINDS OF LEAVES! Two different colored and shaped leaves. I thought the lighter thinner leaves that came in second would turn into something else, but they have stayed leaves.

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And then! The tree got even more interesting when it made these bud shoots that if you are into data structures, look like ternary trees, and if you aren’t into data structures, look like the possibly start of fractals, and if you aren’t into fractals, they just look really cool. The tree just gets more amazing and interesting.

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It took me a while searching around to identify what kind of tree this is, but it appears to be an American Linden Tree, also called a basswood, and part of the Tilia family.

This was my last year of being required to stand out at the bus stop with my children. This was the first year the two trees in our front year were eaten bare  by inchworms in the spring, but I’m really glad they moved on and I got to meet the Bus Stop tree in full spring glory this season! Very cool.

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June 23, 2016
by jenny
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Raspberry Rainbow

I knew there were black raspberries. And I knew there white raspberries. But when we went to Wegman’s this week, we saw Golden and Sunshine Raspberries! Wow!

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The people who love raspberries in our house (my husband, my oldest and me), really really love raspberries. We were surprised to see the variety. My son likes raspberries well enough, but not fanatical like the rest of us. We had a taste test.

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Since it is red raspberry season, the red raspberries were great, sweet and delicious. They were my husbands favorite. But my two kids who entered the taste test and I all preferred the Sunshine raspberries, and thought they were just a little juicier and sweeter than the traditional (for us) red raspberries. The golden raspberries were probably not quite as fresh, seemed a little soft and didn’t have quite as much flavor as the others, so ended in last place.

Hooray for summer produce!!!!

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