We go to an orchard to pick blueberries today. It is so hot in the full sun that we only last about 20 minutes with a bathroom break in the middle.
The kids are amazing. They eat blueberries faster than we can pick them.
Reminded me of Blueberries for Sal.
“Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk go the blueberries into the pail of a little girl named Sal who–try as she might–just can’t seem to pick as fast as she eats. Robert McCloskey’s classic is a magical tale of the irrepressible curiosity–not to mention appetite–of youth.”
Even with the heat and the fast pace of eating, I manage to pick 3 pounds of berries.
While we pick, we talk with friends about what we can make with our blueberries. …Pancakes, crumbles, bars, smoothies, oh, and pie… When we get home, the kids have their minds set on muffins. Muffins have to be their absolute favorite food. So, we make muffins.
Whole Wheat Mini Banana Blueberry Muffins
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, can use unbleached all purpose instead
1/4 cup toasted oat bran
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix or cinnamon
3 bananas, mashed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups blueberries
Combine dry ingredients.
Combine mashed banana, eggs, syrup, brown sugar, milk, oil and vanilla. Lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Fold in blueberries. Spoon the batter into oiled mini muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes and then remove muffins from pan. Makes about 36 mini muffins.
But, we also have plans for blueberry sauce for ice cream.
We’ll puree the last little bit to save for recipes that hide veggies, Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious Style.
And on my top 3 favorite breakfasts list, yogurt with blueberries and granola. Yummo
For tomorrow morning’s breakfast I’ll be enjoying this with a muffin on the side.
Big K felt compelled to trim some branches off the crab apple tree one day. It seemed like a crazy idea at first, K can’t sit still for very long and when he does, it’s to think about his list or pass out.
But what seemed like a crazy idea made lots of sense when I noticed that I could now see the kids playing in the backyard from the porch.
A super-added bonus was that Cousin R eyed the branches on the ground and had an idea.
Uncle M obliged and started to help her follow a plan.
Cousin R wants to build herself a log cabin. She asks for glue.
Big K and Uncle M, being the creative builders that they are, suggested some alternatives involving a drill, hammer, nails, chisel, etc.
I’m not familiar myself with the vocab of building and tools, so I can’t say for sure how they put the log cabin together. Cousin R does a lot of the handy work.
Here’s an update on the rock quarry.
We set up the rocks, diggers, people and jungle months ago.
There hasn’t been much action in the rock quarry since.
I had a couple of theories as to why this happened:
1. J showed enthusiasm for the rock quarry lego set because it was a friend’s toy,
not because he was interested in rock quarries.
2. I took the lead in building the rock quarry. J did not.
If I had let him take the lead, he might have owned it more.
3. Originally, we set it up behind Big K’s parking spot and when he’s home, the car blocks the area.
4. The diggers and people had to be put away at the end of the day to protect them from the weather.
5. The rocks are sharp to kneel on and difficult to shovel.
Here are ways I’ve tried to fix these situations since building the rock quarry:
1. I set up diggers and other toys near the rock quarry when we’re playing in the driveway.
2. I stop asking the boys if they want to play in the rock quarry and let them take the initiative.
3. I move the rock quarry to sit closer to the pavement of the driveway,
so the kids can sit comfortably and still have access to the rocks.
4. I added sticks and other small rocks from the river to peak interest.
5. I investigated rock quarries on the internet and in the area so that we might take a field trip.
The boys play around it most of the time.
When a friend is over, they work with diggers and a log truck with sticks,
a crane with a rescue hammock, but only for a short amount of time.
The rock quarry was a great idea in theory, but it’s time to back off.
Like little J’s interest in cars and parking lots, it will come back full swing when he’s ready.
This week at Summer Arts and Crafts Camp, the art project involves making monsters using play dough and collected objects like popscicle sticks, pipe cleaners and plastic things rescued from the landfill.
We are inspired by pink and green mama’s…making monsters with kool aid play dough.
Recipe for Kool Aid Dough:
1 Cup of Flour
1/2 Cup of Salt
3 teaspoons. of Oil
1 Small Package of Kool Aid
1 Cup of Boiling Water
Mix the dry ingredients. Then, Add Oil and Boiling Water. Stir well then knead. It will be hot for a couple of minutes. You will need to do this recipe for each color. So to do this batch, I mixed up the recipe 5 times, one batch for each color. Store in the fridge in a container.
My Mama friends use MaryAnne Kohl’s Playclay recipe for the monster making at this week’s Art Playgroup:
5 cups water
5 cups flour
2/3 cups salt
10 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons cream of tartar
Combine water, salt, cream of tartar and food coloring in a large saucepan. Cook on low heat. As the mixture heats up, stir in oil and then 5 cups flour, slowly. Keep stirring until the mixture starts looking dry and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Knead dough on counter until smooth.
This makes A LOT of dough and is long lasting.
MaryAnne Kohl has many books published focused on preschool age, process driven projects; simple to execute, using inexpensive and easily obtained art materials.
Friend D makes a funny little monster.
At the Art Playgroup the kids, ranging in age from 1 1/2 to 12, and the adults enjoy the texture of the clay. We smell it, we squeeze it, shape it into balls and poke at it with sticks and pipe cleaners.
We are all offered a ball of playclay to bring home. J fills a bag with small balls of each color. After lunch, I offer J a chance to use the clay again, to create a monster. I bring some pipe cleaners and more googly eyes from the basement studio.
J stays busy burying every googly eye into the shape of the clay. He asks for his scissors to trim the pipe cleaners. His little scissors don’t work, so I watch him closely while he uses a more serious pair. He adds 2 long pipe cleaners as arms, and lots of little ones for the hair.
The he keeps going, adding more arms and hair, saying he’s making a spider monster.
“I want to keep this for Kindergarden to show all my friends.”
J isn’t due to start grade K for another year and a half, so I suggest we put it in the freezer.
We put it in a plastic container and mark it with a J.
The container reads, “J, don’t open until Kindergarden.”
Here are some other fabulous play dough recipes…
~The recipe I use most in the classroom:
1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2-3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons vanilla (optional)
Mix all dry ingredients. Add oil and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until reaching the consistency of mashed potatoes (this does not take too long- it should still look kind of wet) Remove from heat and add vanilla and food coloring. Divide into balls and work in color by kneading the playdough.
This is for a small batch…typically at school I would triple batch it. But I also cut down on the amount of salt–you might need to experiment some. If you do make more than a double batch, I would keep the salt at no more than 1 cup.
~Play dough E Book from Nurturestore.
I am really looking forward to using the bread dough recipe with the kids when the weather gets cool again.
Bread dough recipe
500g strong bread flour or 3 cups
1 teaspoon salt
1 package of fast action dried yeast
1 tablespoon oil
300ml warm water or 1 1/3 cup
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl to form a dough
For play: let the children knead and model with the dough
For bread: knead for 5 minutes then leave to prove for 1 hour
Bake on an oiled baking sheet at Gas 7 / 220C / 425F
For 10 mins (small shapes) or 25 mins (for a loaf)
I cannot remember where or when I learned of this book, but it has been a favorite of mine long before I had children of my own…even before I became a teacher. I’ve used this book in classrooms with all age groups and most children are inthralled by the playful, simple and colorful images.
The author/illustrator of this story, Jae Soo Liu was born in Korea. He majored in oil painting and has a Masters Degree in the education of art. He taught painting classes in which painting was promoted as a playtime activity.
Jae Soo Liu coupled himself in the process of writing of this book with a composer by the name of Dong II Sheen, born in Seoul. Dong II Sheen writes a bit of music to go along with each page turn.
It’s a story about children walking to school.
I found a video of the story with music on YouTube. Watch it here.
I only just now bought a copy for my kids. 2 copies actually…one for each to hold while the music plays. I also bought copies for Little J’s school, to add to their new listening station.
Little K and I sit down to listen to the story and he’s loaded with questions.
K: “Where are the peoples?”
Read the words, Mama.”
He thinks the umbrellas are kites and that they’re going to help the children “fly away.”
I tell him that’s it’s a book where the music tells the story, and we continue to listen and talk about what we see. A train, colors, cars, bridge, a playground. At the end of the cd is a song, Underneath the Sky that is sung in Korean, translated into English on the page. Little K watches me sing the song and joins in. He asks for me to play the song again and he sings along on his own.
For three summers now, this being the 3rd, a group of MOMS have organized an art playgroup.
Two MOMS team up to host and provide snack, art materials and an artsy idea. We meet once a week.
The last 2 weeks, there has been a focus on using Kool Aid.
I’m throwing in the recipes for the homemade art supplies, some of which use Kool Aid.
Homemade Paints, made with gelatin
Squishy, a little lumpy, simple, frugal, great for toddlers to smear on smooth or textured surfaces.
1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups warm water
Soak gelatin in 1/4 cup of warm water and set aside. Combine corn starch and sugar in a medium sized saucepan. Gradually add remaining water and cook slowly over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin. Divide into containers, adding a drop or two of dishwashing liquid and food coloring to each. Put the containers in the fridge, shaking every couple of minutes until it sets.
So much fun to squeeze out of a bottle, takes some time to dry.
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups of water
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
In a medium saucepan, mix flour and sugar. Add 3/4 cup of the water and mix into a thick paste without clumps. Add remaining 3/4 cup of water and stir. Add in vinegar and cook over medium heat stirring constantly. Once the mixture starts to thicken, remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Homemade Glitter, made with flavored Kool Aid
Smells great, looks dull in the spice shaker, but changes when it gets wet from the glue. Super cool.
Simply buy up some flavored Kool Aide packets at your local grocery store and put them into up-cycled shaker containers. Old spice jars work great.
Kool Aid Tie Dye
Great fun in squirt bottles. You can use this just like traditional tie dye.
Apply, dry, set with heat and wear.
Mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to 2 packets of flavored Kool Aid.
You can put these mixtures in a small tub and dunk rubber band-wrapped clothes in it.
You can put in to squirt bottles to spray cloth, and you can even use stencils.
To set colors after the cloth is dry, iron on medium-high using an ironing cloth between shirt and iron.
Let set for 24 hours before washing. To be safe, wash separately first time.
Launder T-shirt as usual and it’s ready to wear.
Blog, The Chocolate Muffin Tree has also been experimenting with Kool Aide…Kool Aide water color paint and tie dying wipes.
Pink and Green Mama used Kool Aid to make my favorite, favorite ever play dough.
Please, let me know if you have any other ways to use Kool Aide!
Cousin R: “Auntie Jena, can I pick some of your flowers for my Mom? I want 1 of each flower.”
Using kitchen shears, she picks daisies, tiger lilies, 3 colors of phlox, hydrangeas, hostas, gooseneck loosestrife, and some funny plum purple flower, like a cross between chives and allium, that I don’t know the name of. If you know, please do tell.
I pick some hydrangeas for myself. When putting them in my mason jar of water, I snip off some of the bottom leaves because they just get mushy and gross if you leave soaking in the water.
The boys find these leaves and ask what they’re for, and I remember a post from The Artful Parent where the kids worked on leaf and flower rubbings.
Hydrangea leaves are very ribby on the underside, so I flip them over and arrange them on a table, tape paper over it and offer some chalk pastels.
The boys decide they’re done and I pull up the paper, where the boys are able to take a second more educated look at the leaves.
They pull them apart, saying they’re making paper airplanes.
The tearing of leaves reminds them of cooking, and they “fire up the grill,” in the pretend kitchen, adding mustard and ketchup to the greens.
J is taking orders and hands a plate of green to everyone in the family.
It goes well with the egg and cheese sandwiches we’re having for breakfast.
The cardboard box and yellow tape project started off inside and had to be moved to the driveway with the addition of ice and water.
See Cardboard and Tape, Story 1.
We left you last with an idea to pretend the box is a bonnie horse that pulls heavy ice.
J: “This is the freezer, keeps stuff cool.”
J: “This is our big oven, cookin’ melted cheese burgers.
This is the cooker oven, and these are the coolers.”
J and K push ice into the “oven.”
J: “Little K, I made a stream.”
(The ice is starting to melt from the heat of the sun that’s shining directly on the project.)
J: “Little K, you have to dump the water on the ice. It’s a table. It’s a hider-fort.”
J: “I have a good idea! My plan is to put (the cardboard) over the ice to keep it cool.
We hafta take a peek. Yup, it’s workin’.”
After this, the cardboard is all wet, and the boys take a greater interest in the kiddie pool. They like splashing water on the driveway to make marks, like the puddles forming from the melted ice cubes that they’ve run through with trucks.
I ask J what will happen to the cardboard now that it’s really wet. He said it will disappear.
Did it? We shall see. It’s what happens in this book that we’ve read a million times.
This project and working with large cardboard boxes in general reminds me of this book.
Christina Katerina and the Box by Patricia Lee Gauch.
J: “I need more tape.”
J and K are very busy with a project, using a cardboard box and some yellow masking tape.
This is very serious work.
J’s dialogue is constant and K tries SO hard to get a piece of tape from the dispenser and onto the cardboard. The box is an elevator, and airplane, a rocket, a pony, a car, etc.
The thing that the cardboard box has become keeps changing faster than I can keep track of with my paper and pencil.
The boys work together in such a focused and peaceful way,
even when they struggle with parts or with each other.
They take my help and answer any of my questions, but they pay no mind to me really.
They finally settle on pretending the box is a car.
They fold down 2 sides, tape down the edges and “drive.”
J draws buttons and a steering wheel, and K follows suit.
Before long, the box is something else. A “bonnie horse” that lifts up ice. “Ice is heavy. There’s a special machine on it. Into the icer, Poof. Need to fill the icer.
K, come on, let’s get some plastic containers full of ice. We need a lot of ice and a lot of water.”
We go outside with our idea…to be continued in Cardboard and Ice, Story 2…
See more cardboard play ideas at the most Awesome blog, TinkerLab.
I’m a little late to the party, but in the beginning of May, TinkerLab had a Challenge/Link Up party where folks submitted their play ideas for cardboard. We love a good challenge.
Here also is a lovely little story I wanted to share, written by the father of a little boy. The story is a documentation about a plan to use Wood Tape.
a quote from the story…”I am so grateful that I let myself follow what I thought were his whims, and I dread how easily a ‘wood tape’ project might have been dismissed. I am proud of the way my wife and I have raised our sons, and so very proud of the boys.”
And I’m adding this one in just for fun!
I love to cook.
I haven’t been able to really get into the kitchen the last couple of weeks because of Big K’s recovery, so today, I took advantage of some free time, and I COOK up a storm of my favorites.
The kids help to cook and eat, and I get my kitchen fix.
It all starts out with a flat of gorgeously ripe peaches and a great crisp recipe.
I make 2 peach goodies (crisps)…one for dessert, one for the freezer.
Peach Goodie, inspired by a friend’s family orchard recipe5 cups of ripe peach
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
Peal and slice peaches into an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish. Mix cinnamon and sugar into the peaches. Mix rolled oats, brown sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Cut in butter, then work with finger tips until mixture is crumbly. Place on top of peaches and pack firm. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, until a crust is formed and peaches are tender. 30-40 minutes.
I cut all my lettuce out of the garden, wash and chop it and put it away in the fridge.
We’ll be eating a lot of salads this week, as well as giving some away.
This is the dressing we use:
Blackberry Basil Vinaigrette, a recipe from the MOMS Club Cookbook
1/2 cup seedless blackberry perserves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6 cups basil leaves
1 garlic glove
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
3/4 cup vegetables
Pulse preserves with vinegar in a food processor. Add next 3 ingredients and pulse until blended. With blender running, add oil in a slow, steady stream. Process until smooth.
While Little K sleeps and I watch Anthony Bordain’s “No Reservations,” I make 4 mini broccoli, Cheddar, bacon and sweet potato quiches and one big one, made with spinach sauteed with onion and pepper, pesto chicken sausage, sweet potato and Mozzarella cheese.
Broccoli and Bacon Quiche
Pie crust, I use a top secret family recipe.
(You can use a frozen ready made pie crust or use your favorite pie crust recipe.)
package of your favorite bacon, cooked
2 stalks broccoli, steamed and chopped
1 medium sweet potato, steamed, sliced into rounds
1 pound shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups of milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow the directions for your pie crust. Lay pie dough into pie pan, prick bottom and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Combine Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses. Layer these ingredients…1/2 cheese, 1/2 broccoli, sweet potato, 1/2 cheese, 1/2 broccoli, bacon. Whisk egg and milk. Pour over the top of quiche. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Chicken Sausage and Spinach Quiche
Pie crust, I use a top secret family recipe.
(You can use a frozen ready made pie crust or use your favorite pie crust recipe.)
Package of sausage of your choice, about 4-5 links, chopped and sauteed.
(We use pesto chicken sausage.)
Spinach, frozen or fresh, sauteed with onion, pepper and garlic
1 medium sweet potato
1 pound shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 cups of milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow the directions for your pie crust. Lay pie dough into pie pan, prick bottom and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Combine Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Layer these ingredients…1/2 cheese, 1/2 spinach, 1/2 sausage, sweet potato, 1/2 cheese, 1/2 spinach, 1/2 sausage. Whisk egg and milk. Pour over the top of quiche. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
I’m putting the half baked quiches in the freezer.
When Big K goes back to work, it will be tiring for him.
It would be nice if we can make life a little easier for everyone by having ready meals some nights.
~ Thank you to family and friends for supporting us with yummy meals these last couple of weeks.
It has been SO much appreciated. Helping Hands ROCK!