August 28, 2014
by sarah
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Pumpkin?

Instead of a garden update – a lawn update. I put some compost in the corner of a garden bed and I think a rogue pumpkin is growing from it. pumpkin1 pumpkin2

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August 27, 2014
by sarah
1 Comment

Waff Waffs

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At dinner the other night we asked the kids what they thought we needed to do to prep for the start of school next week. I have been making lists with things like back packs, clothing, morning check lists, school supplies. My big boy said we need peanut butter, honey, bread, and waffles. Of course! I was thinking about the details that would get us through the whole year. He was thinking of what we needed the first week. It was a great reminder to continue to ask for the kids perspective.

My littlest calls waffles: “waff waffs”.  With the waffle request in I started thinking about how to bulk the recipe up. How to give the kids a great breakfast to fuel them for the morning. This recipe made about 12 large waffles that break into four peices. I broke them up and froze them so they can grab 2 of the quarter pieces each morning. If you don’t have a waffle iron this recipe can also make pancakes. Here is what I came up with:

Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (I love King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups milk (+maybe a little more)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 ripe pealed peach
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or melted butter

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Directions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients togehter in a big bowl.
  2. In a blender put in banana, peach, and milk. Blend. If the total liquid is under 4 cups add a enough milk to make it 4 cups. Add the eggs and oil. Blend.
  3. Add the liquid from the blender to the dry ingredients. Mix well, but not too well. Lumps are OK.
  4. Make the waffles or pancake the way you like to.

I am sure these waffles will see lots of maple syrup. I am hoping to convince them that dipping in yogurt or peanut butter is a good idea too.

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August 26, 2014
by sarah
0 comments

Camp week

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We did it again!

Last summer six families got together and ran our own week long camp. Check out last years success here.

This year we got bigger and better.  We added one more family, added a “camp” for the littles (2-3 year olds), and centered the week around a theme: holidays. Last summers week is now known as the “plain” camp week in my house.

We started the week with Christmas. The host family put up their giant wreath on the side of the house. The kids played several relay races focused around winter or Christmas like each kids had a to balance a marshmallow on a spoon  and run across the yard and put it in a bucket. As well as hanging candy canes on a Christmas tree with oven mitts on their hands. The also made Christmas ornaments.

Tuesday was the birthday theme with yard games and a huge inflatable bouncy house water slide!! They had cupcakes that they frosted them selves for snack. And a pinata of course, they had to line up for by their birth date.

I was supposed to host Easter on Wednesday. I planned on being outside the whole morning. The weather forecast predicted 100% chance of rain. And it poured all day. Luckily the Halloween mom stepped up and hosted inside!! I was/am very thankful to not have 15 kids in my house while it poured outside.  Halloween was a success! Games like eating doughnuts hanging from a sting without using your hands. As well as pumpkin crafts, costumes, and candy.

Thursday was the Fourth of July. Patriotic paintings were made, obstacle courses were challenged (with life sized croquet wickets made out of pool noodles), and a full kick ball game that the boys wanted to never end.

Then Friday was Easter. We started with  a quick walk through the woods to a large field to have an Easter Egg hunt. I was nervous about  how to present the hunt to make it fair for the fast 7 year old boys and for the more careful younger girls. So I split the 15 into 3 groups of mixed gender and age. Each group were assigned 2 different colors of eggs to find. Then a walk back to read books and do crafts. My favorite craft was the egg shell heads. The kids drew on empty egg shells and a cut toilet paper roll. They filled the egg with dirt and planted grass seed hair.

Here is the basic layout of how the camp works. Each day one mom would host and two other mothers would help out for the “big” kids camp age ranging from 4-8. Another mom took the five “littles” -the 2-3 year old younger sisters and brothers and hosted them at her house. The drop off and pick up was a little tricky, but we figured it out. Most of us have a mini van with a variety of car seats which helped a lot. That left three moms with the morning off. Here is a sample schedule of the week. Plug in 7 moms and families and you can have camp week too.

SAMPLE CAMP SCHEDULE

We ended a the week with a pizza party lunch on Friday with 20 kids + 7 moms! We congratulated one another and started planning for next year.

 

 

 

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August 21, 2014
by jenny
3 Comments

Free Shot

 

I had a good day today. I scrubbed the house some. Got the kids moving towards being prepared for school some. I watched three blue jays have an awesomely acrobatic bird fight for a while. And there was a deer kind of going crazy running around houses (entertaining, though something may have been wrong with it). I helped the kids create their final batch of tie dye for the summer (oddly messy even though they are getting better, but they were happy). My 8 year old baby and I made a go at our forth attempt at homemade cheez-its, and though the results still aren’t quite right, we ended up with something  like fluffy little cheese biscuits that are probably the most delicious of all of our attempts to date.

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August 19, 2014
by jenny
1 Comment

Rock Garden Inspiration

When I see a link or recipe I like on my phone I leave the phone browser window open to that link and open new browser windows. After some amount of time, I either realize the link wasn’t that important, or I’ll finally try it out or send it to my laptop to make into a bookmark or printout.

At some point in the summer, I came across this picture. I don’t remember where it came from, but here is the link: https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t1.0-9/10551037_738562906205489_3863202595985666569_n.jpg , which is just to jpg, and not a website. I tried googling “rock painting cactus garden” to find and give credit to the original artist, but only got sidetracked by other really cool art and didn’t find the original source (lots of pinterest pins to this though), so if this is your art, let me know so I can link to you!

I thought this was very cool idea even though some rocks sort of look more like cucumbers than cacti to my kids and I. I love both the original idea in the picture and as the inspiration for other projects. I imagined all sorts of ideas with this concept – making other rock garden/planters with different trees/forests/gardens and flowers painted on the rocks, and mixing rock paintings with live plants in planters as gifts. Be sure, I’ve seen plenty of rock ladybugs and turtles in my day, but how about painting rock garden gnomes for house plants? Or giraffes reaching up to eat some leaves of a potted plant or flower? A fox or owl hiding behind a stem? So many ways to go with this. If you search for rock painting ideas you’ll be impressed, amazed and inspired by other ideas.

I think this would make a very cool gift for someone or project to add to houseplants you already have at home. This would be a great way to use the rocks you’ve picked up over the summer, or a reason to stock up on rocks of inspiring shapes on your last beach (or other) outings of the season.

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I do not own rights to this picture or the idea and I do not claim to, I’d love to give credit to the owner, if you know where it came from!

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August 18, 2014
by jenny
0 comments

End of Summer

 

We went away again last week to a lake. It was cool and rainy. It felt and smelled like fall, not like fall was coming, but fall. A few trees had starting to change color. It was too cold to swim (two kids tried), too rainy to boat, and too muddy/slippery/wet to try our favorite hikes. We kept commenting on how much it felt like summer was over, even though we knew we still have a couple of good weeks left of swimming and beaches, we truly couldn’t convince ourselves. Stripping the beds felt like we were packing them up for winter.

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So when I got home and found another nice batch of green beans in the garden, I was excited. Summer is not over. Dilly green beans have become a favorite in the family and I had enough between the garden and the week’s CSA haul to fill two quart jars and bottle up summer. I got everything ready and packed the beans into the jars and put them in the water bath for canning.

But after a little while the kitchen started smelling like dill.

One of the jars had cracked and soon beans were floating at the top of the water! I immediately assumed it was a sign that summer really was over. I solidified this idea when the second jar of beans hadn’t sealed when I checked in the morning.

Soon after told the kids we’d start thinking about prepping ourselves for school minds and bodies. We still have swimming to do, museums to visit, rocks to paint, cucumbers and peppers to pickle, and other summer things on the agenda, but this week, we will try to get dressed and have teeth brushed before coming downstairs, and practice getting out of the house early for the summer things, and take inventory on lunch boxes, rain coats and soccer cleats.

Make the best of these days, people, it’s not over yet!

photo

 

 

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August 14, 2014
by sarah
1 Comment

What was I thinking: Frosting

I’m always up for a challenge, but I don’t know what I was thinking with this frosting recipe. I started making it and was too far along when I realized I needed not only one pound of butter, but two ( I think I read 8 tablespoons when it was really 8 sticks of butter).

Lets start from the beginning… My littlest is turning three next week and tomorrow is one of a couple events that I thought I would offer cupcakes to celebrate her. I have cake and frosting recipes that I have tried, but none that I love. So I fell right into Martha Stewart’s trap of yummy sounding pastry recipes. I couldn’t resist “Swiss Meringue Buttercream” as if I was making a wedding cake for adults and not cupcakes for two and three year olds. It is very delicious, I hope it freezes well. frosting1

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August 13, 2014
by sarah
0 comments

Garden update: August 11

This week in the garden I have the cutest little water melons I have ever seen. I have never grown water melons, we shall see how they taste. And the edamame are almost ready.

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My favorite time for flowers in my garden is May and June with the iris and the peonies. But now the wildflowers are coming out in my garden: the daises and black eyed susan. I also have been growing zinnias inside the fence of the vegi garden. Some furry critter has stopped them from growing in the flower beds in the past. They have been very successful behind the fence.  I also love Queen Anne’s lace, however I have tried to tame it in a garden bed before. It is a bad idea!! The daisies and black eyed susan are invasive, but easy to pull up when they get out of hand. Queen Anne’s lace grows from the root wrapping itself around other plants and is hard to get rid of. I will stick to admiring it as I drive by, or in my neighbors yard.

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August 8, 2014
by jenny
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Jenny’s Garden Update

 

I haven’t posted any garden updates this year. My husband took over much of the garden with “his” tomatoes (which he prunes too much for my liking, and have a touch of blight, but are doing okay overall) and “his” peppers. I grew snow peas (already done and cleared out), green beans (still going a little, but something comes by and eats them flat across at about a foot high, like a weed whacker has come through), basil (something has also enjoyed devouring all plants since they went into the ground, but I’m hoping they’ll come back), parsley, and pickling cucumbers (of which there has been quite a glut). We also have a couple plants each of eggplant, summer squash and cherry tomatoes that were leftover from a neighbor’s garden that are all doing well.

We have been away on and off this summer as well, but hooked up a timer and a soaker hose system on the faucet for watering. I was looking around in the garden this week after returning from a few days away, collecting the weekly crazy amount of cucumbers, when I was once again overcome by the absolute beauty of it all. I hope you like it too.

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August 6, 2014
by jenny
0 comments

3D Wonder Paint

 

Here’s another kit that we found in a closet this summer:

Sparkling 3D Paint Activity Kit (Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

I had picked it out for my 8 year old daughter for Christmas. It seemed like something she would like – she likes instructions, but once she understand the instructions, she likes to come up with her own ways to use the kit parts. I thought this would be open ended enough for her to enjoy. And it sort of was. I have a mixed review of this kit. It’s fun, but should come with a lot of warning.

My 8 year old girl, my 6 year old son and I  tried out this kit one evening recently.

To use this kit you first have to use one sort of paint as an outline. Then you wait for that to dry before you fill it in with the other more colorful paints in the kit. This initial drying time when starting the project upset one kid, and the other did not like being constrained to using the two included outline colors (black and silver).

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The kit included two sheet protectors to paint (squeeze from bottles) on, and line drawings on pages that you can slide into the sheet protectors to trace (you obviously don’t have to stick to the kit included/suggested drawings and could slide in a drawing or printout of text or your favorite cartoon character or other drawing or freehand whatever you want, just as long as it is a continuous line). My 8 and 6 year old did not find “tracing” these drawings while evenly squeezing out the outline paint from the squeeze bottles easy. In fact, they found it down right frustrating. Thankfully, we found more sheet protectors around the house (and photo copied the sheet of fish so more than one of us could make fish projects at the same time), and we had get a bunch of shapes going at once. This worked out great.

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The filling in of paint was fun. My kids liked to mix paints. You can use techniques described in the kit directions to make swirl, tie die and starburst effects using toothpicks. They come out easily and look really cool. We liked this and quickly squeezed out just some outlined circles to have fun experimenting with this. That was a lot of fun. But when the project dried, the all swirls and effects just mixed and the result was cloudy instead of cool. Maybe if you let colors dry more first before adding another the pattern would stay, we haven’t tried that yet.

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The kit directions say let dry for a while the longest time suggested was “overnight.” We let ours sit overnight, when we tried to peel the results off in the morning, it was very very sticky. The projects were beyond hard to remove from the sheet protectors, and would stick to themselves and be ruined. We were sad. and frustrated. We stopped trying and I set the sheets in the dining room because I didn’t feel like cleaning it up. The next morning they peeled off much much easier, so I guess they just required more drying time. This was made things a lot better and we wanted to try again, knowing lots of extra time, patience and sheet protectors from home make this kit better.

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All in all, this project came with frustrations, but was fun to do.  If you think you can handle this, I definitely recommend having extra sheet protectors on hand, saving it for older kids, and leaving a couple days of drying time.

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