August 26, 2015
by sarah
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This weeks beach project…

We are finishing up our summer at the beach. It has been great fun to be beach bums this summer!

When I saw this in a magazine I thought I would try it. A great souvenir from our fun beachy summer. I already have a stack of 8×8 mirrors at home that a friend gave me after she removed them from the 1970 mirror tiled wall in her house. (We still have our mirror tiles up in the boys room – he won’t let us remove them). image

I have been been collecting sticks everyday. Soon I’ll show you the end result.

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August 19, 2015
by jenny
1 Comment

Favorite Things This Summer

Here are a few things I’ve been loving this summer (may contain Amazon affiliate links):

  • Orgain Creamy Chocolate Fudge Protein Drink I’m loving these for a quick breakfast or snack. We had a few weeks where whatever went on in the morning, I only ended up making myself some iced coffee for breakfast. Since I’ve been loving Orgain protein powder, I was hoping to give the Iced Mocha drink a try. I accidentally ordered chocolate. I’m not a big chocolate fan, so was sort of upset, but I love it! It’s definitely expensive for what I’d normally spend on breakfast, but great alternative to buying coffee, or for kids. My kids don’t love it as much as I do! There are kids versions and other flavors to choose from.
  • The Penderwicks Series My kids and I love audiobooks. My husband not so much. He’ll suffer through for short times, but the kids and I usually have a few road trips per summer that work keeps Dad home. We’ve try to pick a series to listen to throughout a summer. Last summer we did Harry Potter. This summer it’s The Penderwicks. The plots are simple and characters likable and because there are boy and girl characters with a range of ages and personalities, and the plot is fairly everyday realistic, the stories are relatable for all of my kids. There is some boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, especially in the last two books, and no big action or excitement, but my 7 year old son has hung in there and stayed interested. (We’ve been getting them digitally from the library, while we were waiting for one of the books to become available, we took a detour and started James Patterson’s Treasure Hunters
    series, which the boy enjoyed a little more and the girls didn’t love!)
  • Descendants movie on Disney Channel. We’ve watched it twice and the kids bought the soundtrack with their own money about 12 hours after seeing it the first time. As far as cinematic masterpieces go, this is not one, but as far as kids movies go, the premise is good, and since we watch Liv and Maddie, seeing Dove Cameron as Mal was like watching an old friend in a high school play.
  • Smart Girl’s Guides: I’ve got anxious/shy/slow to transition/whatever kids, and in a number of different situations, these easy to relate to kid language self help books for kids have really helped out my daughters for the past few years. My 11 year old is particularly leaning on the A Smart Girl’s Guide: Middle School these days!
    (FoxTrot Comics and National Geographic Kids books are also hot in our house this summer!)
  • The fascination with Tiny Houses. I’ve always dreamed about motor homes, but as a vacation and adventure vessel. I can’t wrap my head around Tiny Homes full time. I can easily live without cable TV, with only a few wardrobe items and shoes, and using library and digital books instead of a collection. But if you are in a Tiny Home, do you only have one roll of toilet paper on hand? No backup supply of Advil? No canning? Only a week’s supply of dog food? It does inspire me to purge purge purge here!
  • The idea of this zucchini tot recipe, which will happen here soon.
  • I finally made my first paracord bracelet after years of wanting to try. Tying the bracelet was way easier than I thought (my 7 year old son got it easily after the first knot), but tying it off/tucking it was a little tricky!
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August 6, 2015
by jenny
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Beach Treasure Sacks

My kids and I love searching for treasures on the beach. My oldest has been on a teeny tiny or perfectly formed shell kick. My middle and I are open to anything cool, but have a particular fondness for cool rocks. My son tends to gravitate towards random, gross, and dead stuff.

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We rarely plan well for our collection. Somehow, I always end up carrying everything in pockets and (clean) dog poop bags because those are the only container we generally have on beach walks. I guess we could bring buckets, but our buckets are always cracked and still require someone to carry them awkwardly.

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Sometimes it’s just about the hunting and collecting, and we forget to do anything with what we’ve found once we get back to the house. My cousin unfortunately found one of my son’s dead horseshoe crab collection in a poop bag that had turned into a rotten bag of maggots. That got me thinking that we should change our process.

We are heading to the beach today, and I threw together these beach treasure sacks.

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First I found an organza gift bag for my daughters teeny tiny treasures. I used a netted potato bag and lemon bag and grosgrain ribbon to make cross body sacks for my other two kids. Easy. I just stitched a strap on one, and I finished the top of the other. I made one strap kid size and one a little longer in case I have to carry it (I can put a knot in it or eventually make it adjustable for smaller wearers).

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Make sure your ribbon is color safe in case they get wet and rub on your shirt. These could also be scooped in the water as nets to catch fish or rinse off treasures.

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You wouldn’t need to sew this if you don’t sew or are already at the beach – just tie on a ribbon or shoestring. If you do sew, you could finish these very nicely really wonderful gifts!

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August 4, 2015
by jenny
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Egg Muffins

More in my quest for protein, I’ve made a few batches of egg muffins this summer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, spray a muffin tin, and fill it however you want. It takes about 15-20 minutes to cook. I’ve put in bread, bacon (we like crispy bacon, so I park-cooked the bacon), cheese, more cheese, sausage, onions, and poured on freshly cracked eggs, beaten eggs and egg beaters. Store extras in the fridge. We’ve successfully enjoyed them warm, cold (especially good with a little Frank’s Hot Sauce), and reheated. These are easy, make a nice snack and would make great additions to a lunch box!

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July 30, 2015
by sarah
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Ball vs. Nest

Jenny and I both love being outdoors. We enjoy being in the woods and living close by to nature. Our homes get visited by lots of critters and we mostly like it that way. I try nicely to convince some critters not to visit. Sometimes for our comfort and sometimes for theirs. I try to keep the deer away to limit the ticks in the yard and so they won’t eat my plants. I encourage most birds to visit. We have a small tree near our front door that has a perfect fork in the branches for a nest. Such a comfy spot, but always getting interrupted by our playing in the yard and coming in and out of the door. We thought we solved the problem by putting a ball in the tree. Recently a robin has worked the ball into her architectural plan. She leaves the nest as soon as the front door is open. We shall see what happens when the babies are born.

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July 24, 2015
by jenny
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Chocolate Chip Muffins with Protein Powder

We spend a LOT of time together in the summer, with this comes lot of bickering and arguing. When the bickering and arguing turns to incessant fighting, many times it’s because at least one person needs a snack. I’ve been trying work more protein into their snacks.

I’ve been experimenting with adding protein powder to different recipes. Rice Krispy Treats with protein powder went over well for me, my son and some of our friends, but wasn’t received well by my daughters. No one noticed it in pancakes, and I stopped myself from adding it to coat french toast. Chocolate Chip Muffins with Protein Powder was a unanimous hit for all of my kids (and their friends)! So I made them again and wrote down the recipe to share.

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I’ve been using Orgain Vanilla Protein Powder (amazon affiliate link) . I like it better than some that I have tried. I don’t like artificial sweetener taste, and my kids can’t stand the grittiness a lot of powders add to smoothies. The amount of powder you put into recipes will depend on your tastes, goals and the formulation of the protein powder of your choice. You may need to add more liquid (and can probably cut out some sugar) if you want to add more.    Don’t quote me on this, but I figure each muffin in this recipe packs about 7 grams of protein from the protein powder, plus a little more from other ingredients, which is more than a hard boiled egg. It comes with sugar content, but not bad when they ask to eat a couple in a sitting!

Chocolate Chip Muffins with Protein Powder

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips + more for sprinkling on top
  • 1 cup vanilla (or chocolate) protein powder [I used Orgain Vanilla Protein Powder (amazon affiliate link)]

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, grease muffin tin, or prepare silicon muffin cups.
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  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, protein powder and 3/4 cup chocolate chips in medium sized mixing bowl (or stand mixer). Add milk, oil and egg  into the flour mixture and stir until just uniform. Don’t over mix.
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  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops of muffins with some extra chips.
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  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack (freeze for later!) or eat them warm.
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July 21, 2015
by jenny
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Mushroom Hunt

I don’t know much about mushrooms, but I can tell you I had an awesome time spotting them. I can see how mushroom foraging would be an addictive hobby for me. Besides the first picture (taken last month), these fungi were all spotted and photographed from the sidewalk with my iPhone over two days while walking my dog walk around my neighborhood. There are plenty more out there, and many larger. Does anyone forage and eat wild mushrooms?

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July 20, 2015
by jenny
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Squishy Egg

I mentioned that I wanted to do the dissolving the egg shell experiment this summer. I remember it being cool as a kid, so we tried it. As a parent, it’s just as cool for the same reasons I thought that it was as a kid (hard egg to squishy water balloon like egg!), but also cool because there is pretty much no set up, no mess and the materials are on hand!

The acetic acid in the vinegar dissolves the calcium carbonate that makes up the egg shell. The reaction releases carbon dioxide bubbles. It only takes a day or two.

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Materials:

  • an egg or two (we used a raw and a hard boiled egg, throw two raw in if you have two kids!)
  • glass or jar for each egg
  • vinegar (white distilled is easiest to see)

Directions:

  1. Place the egg(s) in the jar(s). Cover with vinegar. Let sit for 24-48 hours.
  2. The end! Take it out and play with it.

 

The shell is just dissolving off.

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Careful!

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Squish… Squish…

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POP!

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Peeled hard boiled egg with no work involved.

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July 15, 2015
by sarah
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Beach carry hack

Thought I would share the hack I stumbled upon yesterday. This is how you get a very tired three year old from the beach to the car – when you have to carry other things. image

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