Thursday, December 30, 2010

Duck, Duck, Goose

I never really liked the game Duck, Duck, Goose as a kid.  But here are a duck and a goose that I have loved from the beginning.  Another great discovery made at the public library. Which bird are you most like?  I aspire to be as in the moment as Goose, but my know-it-all, competitive streaks make me worry that I might actually be most like Thistle.  Definately something to ponder and strive for in the New Year. 

Two picture books.

Duck & GooseDuck, Duck, Goose (Duck & Goose)

And a bunch of board books.

Duck and Goose: How are You Feeling? (Duck & Goose)
Duck & Goose, 1, 2, 3
What's Up, Duck?: A Book of Opposites (Duck & Goose)
Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin
Duck & Goose, It's Time for Christmas

Friday, August 27, 2010

I scream, you scream . . .

we all scream for ice cream!

On my long list of things I wanted to accomplish this summer was making ice cream.  I kept buying all the ingredients and then just not getting to it.  So I went back to the store repeatedly for fresh ingredients. The strawberries had been eaten, the half and half was expired, we used all the eggs for breakfast.  But now I am proud to report that with a lot of help and enthusiasm and borrowed ice from my neighboors, we have now made ice cream not once, not twice, but three times, in three different ways. 

First attempt. 
Method: Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment. 
Very handy, attaches right onto my stand mixer.  My only complaint is that the freezer bowl has to live in your freezer for 15 hours before you make the ice cream.  Which means you have to plan ahead, not my strong suit when it comes to cooking.  And you have to make the space for it in there with all the frozen pizza. Not easy!  Kids can help you make the batter, but then there's some overnight wait time while it chills, then they can watch the mixer and listen for the clicking to know it's done (unless your child is scared of the mixer, then you'll have to do most of the work yourself like me).

KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment

Recipe:  Triple Chocolate
Who doesn't love something that has chunks of Hershey bar AND three other kinds of chocolate.  If I'm counting correctly this should actually be called quadruple chocolate because it had semisweet baking chocolate, unsweetened baking chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, plus the chopped up Hershey bars which you add literally at the last minute.  It was a little on the complicated side.  Lots of ingredients and lots of steps.

Results: Yum! It made enough that we ate some fresh, then put the rest in a big tupperware and ate it for a few days, maybe even a whole week.  So I guess all that hardwork paid off!

Second attempt.

Method:  Mega Ice Cream "Ball"
The big plan was that the mob of kids outside on a hot day were going to kick the ball around for the 30 minutes it takes for the ice cream to freeze.  As it turned out, the ball is too heavy for the little kids to kick or push around for very long. And even the big kids ran out of attention span for this one, so the moms ended up doing most of the "shaking".  You have to pack the ball with ice so you need to plan ahead to save up enough (or go door to door borrowing ice).

Play and Freeze Mega Ice Cream Maker,Quart,Red
Recipe: Vanilla
All it took was half and half (I actually didn't quite have enough so I mixed in some whole milk), vanilla, and sugar.

Results: Yum!  It freezes hard around the edges where it is touching the metal canister, and it's more like soft serve in the center.  Scoop it into bowls and eat right away!  Or if you don't have a big enough crowd to eat it all, scoop it into a tupperware and freeze it for later.

Third attempt.

Method: Ziplock Bags
I like this because you don't need any special equipment, most of us have two sizes of plastic bags on hand already.  But you still need quite a bit of ice!

Ziploc Sandwich Bags - 125-Count
Recipe: Vanilla
Whole milk, sugar, vanilla.  You probably have those on hand too! 

Results: Yum!  Firmer than the ice cream ball. It freezes faster because it's broken up into single servings.  It's less time to shake, but our kids still didn't stick with the shaking for the whole five minutes. Beware that this strategy uses lots of plastic bags so be prepared to wash and reuse them.  We ate it straight out of the bags but I suppose you could transfer it to a dish. 

Watch out Haagen-Dazs five!  I can make yummy ice  cream with only three ingredients. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm the Messiest Thing in this Ocean

Well, I would be if I lived in the ocean, but instead "I'm the messiest person that lives in this house!"  If you don't know Kevin Sherry's books about the giant squid yet, you may not hear these comparison's in the giant squids low booming voice (read perfectly by Miss Sarah of the Issaquah and Sammamish libarary storytime fame).  But at our house these days, I like to bellow my challenges to the little ones in my deepest echo-y voice- "I'm the fastest toy picker-upper", "I have the cleanest teeth in the ocean", "I give the tightest hugs in the ocean".  These are met with the comeback that tops all comebacks,"No, I am the . . . ."  And works everytime, well, until next week when we'll be on to the next strategy for getting them to do what we want.

I'm The Biggest Thing in the OceanI'm the Best Artist in the Ocean!

Anyhow, we just discovered the second book about the giant squid, I'm the Best Artist in the Ocean, in which the shark wants the squid to stop painting because he is making such a HUGE MESS.  And the giant squid, continuing to bask in his own brilliance and talent, hears him say that his work of art (done on the side of the blue whale and strangely similar to Picasso's Guernica) is a "MESSTERPIECE". 

I love it!  A new word which perfectly describes the state of my house at the moment.  My messterpiece is the result of cleaning the garage by moving things into the house, then cleaning the closet by moving things out into the hall.  However, the mess paid off yesterday in a whirl of creative activity which was only possible because I have saved all sorts of stuff most sane people would recycle.

Let me set the stage.  Hot, hot, day.  Looking for something to do in the shade since the usual activity of riding bikes and pushing tricycles in circles on the hot pavement seemed unthinkable.  Wading pool. Neighboor kid and friend went inside to build a pirate ship out of cardboard.  Hmmm.  Gears in my brain turn.  Craft foam, popsicle sticks, duct tape, bubble wrap, miscellaneous lids and plastic containers, scissors, pipe cleaners, yarn, toothpicks, straws are all easily accessible right in the middle of my hallway. Some of those things float.  DING-DONG.  Want to come outside and build boats with us?

So here are some messterpieces of the floating variety. Aren't they cool?

 I can hear the giant squid now, "I built the coolest, most-floatyest, least-sinkyest boat in the ocean, err ahem, in this wading pool."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Worm Farming 101

Nothing like learning how to do something by just doing it.  And nothing like starting a worm bin to make a mess!  Our inspiration came from a new favorite book, Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer by Carol Brendler.  This endearing girl earns money to buy herself a new wagon by starting a worm farm and sharing the compost with her neighboors.  Winnie Finn is a worm expert, I on the other hand knew nothing except what I read on the last page of the book. 

I bought a cheap storage bin, top soil, and chicken manure.  Then we collected newspapers (just the black and white pages) and ran them through our paper shredder.  I ordered a pound of red wigglers and when they arrived we assembled their new home.  It was an exercise in layering.

First, newspaper "bedding". 

Second, soil and manure mixed together.

Third, more shredded paper and some water.

Finally, worms! 

Sawyer was super excited to "feed" the worms so I let him add some kitchen scraps.  Winnie Finn claims that worms like egg shells, and we also shared some pieces of overripe peach and corn husks.  Who knew that his first "pet" would be a bunch of worms.  He is taking their wellbeing very seriously which makes me more likely to consider an actual pet in the future. 

So far, so good.  No worms have escaped that we know of.  And it's pretty cool to see the tracks where the worms have been moving against the side of the transparent container. Unfortunately, the fruit flies are abundant when you open the lid.  Guess I need to read a little more about what happens next!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Go Fly a Kite!

Or try one of my other top ten picks for what to do next time you are in Seaside, Oregon.  I've been going there since I was itsty-bitsy.  My daughter (who is somehow almost one already!!) has already been there five times.  Anyhow, you would think that doing the same stuff would get old, but somehow it never does. 

1.  Read a Book.     I saw one wise woman laying on a beach towel with a blanket over her, head toward the ocean, reading.  Looked pretty cozy!  Yes, I know, some of you are thinking that people should be wearing bikinis at the beach in June, not blankets. Yet somehow I still prefer a blanket. 

Bears At The Beach

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (Hardcover)Dunk Skunk

I have made some good finds at Beach Books, including Beach by Elisha Cooper.  It has amazing illustrations that kids could pour over all day if you are patient enough to let them.  My other recent beachy pick is Bears at the Beach by Niki Yektai which I found at Under the Big Top Toys.

On this trip I managed to read a book in three days.  That has to be some kind of record for a person with two little kids.  I started and finished Novella Carpenter's book Farm City while curled up in bed with a little person snoozing away and a view of the ocean.  And our favorite storytime reads courtesy of King County Library were Dunk Skunk by Michael Rex and Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis.  Both are simple enough for young children to read along with you. We had to laugh when we were at the beach and noticed that I was telling Sawyer, "Be careful with that stick!" and he looked at me and said, "It's not a stick, it's a rocket!"

Not a Stick

2.  Make a Castle.  It's risky building castles with preschoolers around. They like to destroy them as much or more as they like to build them.  We reached a compromise, Sawyer agreed to only destroy the castles that I built for that purpose and to leave the rest of my creations undisturbed.  This strategy worked great, until Peyton crawled right into the middle and smushed the whole thing anyhow.  Darn.

This time we built our castles using a variety of recycled containers as forms.  Buckets work great, but so do old "snack pack" tubs (Teddy Grahams, Ritz Bits, you know the ones?) and plastic easter eggs.  We also went on a hunt around the beach for wood, feathers, shells, things to decorate and use as drawbridges.  The gathering was just as fun as the embellishing. 

3.  Fly a Kite.  Always fun on a windy day.  Plus lots of running in the fresh air might equal a long nap which will allow you to accomplish # 1 (see above).

4.  Ride a Bike.  Up and down the prom.  To town and back. To the swings and back. Or for a change of scenery head past the aging Tides motel at the South end along the residential streets and over to the cove.  Head up the hill to the Tillamook Head trail head (to Ecola state park and Cannon Beach) if you need a workout.

5.  Eat.  Specifically the Cheesy Shrimp Bread at Harbor Bites.  It's a fun, neighboorhoody place at the opposite end of town from everything else.  They have live music on Tuesdays and more often in the summer and you can eat, enjoy a pitcher of beer (or a soda) with your kids in tow, and then walk or ride your bike home.

6.  Ride the Carousel.  It spins pretty quickly so beginners should start with the Ostrich or Giraffe which don't go up and down. $1.50 a person.  Adults are free if they are riding with a paying child.  The train across the street is fun but it's not consistently open which can lead to dashed hopes and thus tears.  Free rides are available on the beach swings, the ones near the turn around get crowded so head to the ones that are further down the prom.

7.  Eat More.  Fudge. Tom and Larry's. Enough said.

8.  Play.  Skee ball.  Air hockey.  Pin Ball.  And what the heck- Dance Dance Revolution.  All at the arcade.

9.  Eat.  Popcorn.  Phillip's candies. Caramel or Cheese? Sweet or salty or a little of both?  Take your pick and some napkins (especially if you choose the cheese).  And beware- the sizes are decieving because they pack it up over the box and let it spill into a little clear bag around the box that they seal with a twist-tie.

10.  Play Ten Tiny Tees.  At $3.00 a pop, this is a mini-golf bargain.  It hasn't changed since I was a kid so there's plenty of chance for mastery.  The only problem is that kids under 6 aren't allowed to play on their own.  You can however play together (meaning: you hold the club, they get to help).

Oh, and a little known secret, Seaside has an awesome public swimming pool.  Non-residents pay $3.00 a person for Open Swim.  There is a warm water pool and a jacuzzi, and in the big, cold pool there is a slide, rock climbing wall, and rope swing.  And the locker rooms even have suit spinners!  There are regular Kinder-splash times for the 3 and under set as well as regular lap swim hours.  Call to check the schedule- Sunset Empire Parks and Rec.  The pool is located on the other side of the highway near Safeway, the library, and Broadway Park (which has a new play structure and a skate park).