6.29.2011

Forever Sand Castles

I am on vacation this week, so I'm going to bring back an old post. I'll be back soon with some fun new stuff! Here is another fun summer project for kids:


I plan for summer vacation all year by clipping fun projects from my Family Fun magazine and storing them for later, let's call it Family Fun Summer.

Making sand castles and playing with Play Doh has always appealed to my kids and when I saw this recipe for sand dough, I knew it would be a blast! If you've ever made cooked play dough, it is the same recipe using sand in place of flour.

Ingredients:

2 cups sand
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups hot water


(For my sanity, I prefer to pre-measure ingredients before beginning any cooking projects with my two younger kiddos.)



Mix dry ingredients in a saucepan, then add water. (Actually sitting on top of the counter to do so is totally optional.)



Stir until combined. (Fight with your brother because he got to stir for one millisecond longer than you.)

Place the pan over medium heat and stir until it begins to form a ball in the center of the pan. It will be difficult to stir and hold together well. (Scream at your mom to "Let ME do it!" when she tries to assist with the hard stirring in a hot pan part, because she doesn't have time for an emergency room run that day.)



Let it cool for a few minutes, (Ask repeatedly if it's cool yet. Ideally, you should ask this every 30 seconds.) Now it's time to build your sand castle!



The dough has a nice texture and dries to look just like sand! (Show daddy when he gets home, show the neighbor that stops by, yell the news to the mailman as he makes a delivery.)



**Tips: Let your pan soak to loosen the sandy clay from the sides and bottom. Do NOT rinse this down the drain! The sand will settle in the low areas of your pipes and could cause problems later. After soaking, use a spoon to scrap all the bits loose then dump it in the yard or flower bed.

Place a plastic tablecloth or place mats down for the kids to play on. This clay is abrasive and could scratch your table.

Give the kids a scrap piece of wood or cardboard to build the castles onto. They will cry if you attempt to move their beautiful castles to eat dinner and they fall apart.

6.27.2011

Tutorial Tuesday!

Hope Studios


Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday - If you are new here, this party is to showcase your weekly tutorials. What counts as a tutorial? Anything to Teach Me Stuff counts - a recipe, a kid's craft, a DIY project, how you got your baby to sleep through the night ... I'm not picky.

Scroll down to see this week's tutorial: Homemade Ice Cream!

Check out the Stuff I Learned last week...

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

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We All Scream For Ice Cream!




A few weeks ago I showed you how to make Coke Slushies with your Ice Cream Maker. Those were fun and fast, but sometimes the only thing to satisfy an ice cream craving on a hot summer day is good, old-fashioned ICE CREAM!

Here is my favorite Ice Cream recipe from Country Living:

Vanilla Ice Cream
Country Living Magazine

2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a med. saucepan, whisk together milk, sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

Lower heat to medium and whisk for 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken.

Strain into a large bowl, then whisk in half-and-half, cream, and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours.

2. Pour mixture into ice-cream maker and process according to instructions.

**note** This recipe fills my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker 2 times. I make half one night and save the rest of the mixture in the fridge for another day that week.

6.24.2011

The County Fair - Feedback Friday



You all know I love my County Fair, the kids and I look forward to it every year. We mostly bring The Big Guy to foot the bill. He does a lot of standing around waving to us.

Fair food is in a class of it's own...We've all heard of the Fried Oreos, Fried Twinkies, Fried Cheesecake, and even the Fried Butter that Oprah made famous:



"Chicken" Charlie Boghosian has even invented Fried Kool-Aid for the San Diego County Fair this year!

My favorite "fair food" from the New York fairs of my youth, was always "Salt Potatoes". Oh My! You can find a recipe for these salt encrusted lovelies here.



It's Feedback Friday...

What is your favorite "Fair Food" of your youth?

What about now?

6.23.2011

Butter Your Corn




Corn season is just around the corner! Soon we will have tender, sweet corn grown right her in Pennsylvania, but until then we will survive on the stuff trucked in from Florida. It seems everyone has their own favorite way to butter their corn on the cob.

My mom likes to save the heels from her loaf of bread. She slathers it with butter then wraps it around the cob. A quick twist and your whole cob is buttered!

I have a friend who swears by spray butter for her corn. It's the only time of the year she buys it. A quick spray of her preferred brand, I Can't Believe it's Not Butter, and your cob is buttered!

Martha adds her butter right to the cooking water! As each ear is removed from the water, it becomes buttered since you are pulling it through a layer of melted butter floating on top. Genius!

Sometimes I just use a half stick of butter with the paper half removed. I just run the stick up and down for an even coat. You can even buy little gadgets that hold that stick of butter for you! The one I used to have was from Pampered Chef.

But, for the most part, I like to dip my pastry brush into softened butter and brush over the cob.

However I butter it, I've saved the following recipe to try this summer:


Ingredients:

8 ears corn
4 fresh limes, quartered
Garlic butter, recipe follows
1/2 cup grated cotija cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish


Preheat grill to medium. Peel back the husks of the corn without removing them. Remove the silks and recover the corn with the husk. Soak in large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes.

Unwrap corn and brush with the garlic butter. Sprinkle with the cotija cheese and squeeze with lime. Sprinkle with chopped chives, to garnish.

Garlic Butter:

2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
8 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 habanero pepper, seeded
1/4 bunch fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Combine butter, garlic, habanero, and chives in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.

How do you like to butter or prepare YOUR corn?
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6.22.2011

More Science!

We are leaving for vacation, so I put the kids to work! Here is another science project from my Boys.

Gather up some supplies:

A plate
Milk
Food coloring
Cotton swab
dish soap


Presenting the Hope Studios Players:



Find out why this reaction occurs HERE.

6.20.2011

Tutorial Tuesday!

Hope Studios


Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday - If you are new here, this party is to showcase your weekly tutorials. What counts as a tutorial? Anything to Teach Me Stuff counts - a recipe, a kid's craft, a DIY project, how you got your baby to sleep through the night ... I'm not picky.

This week, we learned some recipes for Science Fun for kids.

Check out the Stuff I Learned last week...

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios






Fun Science Projects

Though I try to make the kids keep up with reading and math over the summer, sometimes it's fun to turn a fun project into a learning experience. It all started with Diet Coke and Mentos:



Then we branched out to see what other combinations of ordinary ingredients would cause a chemical reaction. Here are a few others to try with your now-empty Diet Coke bottle!


*An empty 20 oz soda bottle (or any tall skinny clear container)

*Hydrogen peroxide

*Active yeast

*Warm water

*Liquid dish soap

*Food coloring


Mix ~4 oz of hydrogen peroxide with ~2oz of liquid dish soap and a few drops of food coloring.

Add this mixture to the soda bottle and place it in the sink.

In a separate container, mix one packet of active yeast with warm water, still and let sit for ~ 5 minutes.

When you are ready, pour the yeast mixture into the soda bottle (a funnel might be helpful) and watch the reaction!

Then we started thinking about reactions we already knew of and tried to figure out how to change it. So, we came up with this:

*1 cup vinegar

*a few squirts of dish soap

*food coloring

*1/2 cup baking soda


Combine the vinegar, soap, and food coloring to your bottle.

Using a dry funnel, add the baking soda.

Now, hold onto that bottle because there is one more project we have for it. Stay tuned!

6.18.2011

Stuff I Learned!

Rolling Planters (make the most of the sun you have!):



Homemade Twix Bars:


Kid's Camp Chair. Brilliant.



Fun Summer Projects for Kids:

Rice Mosaic

Fairy Wind Chimes

Wacky Wigs

CLICK PICKS (this week's most clicked links):

#1 Iced Coffee (tastes like Starbucks!)

#2 Wedding Dance

#3 3D T-shirt flowers

6.17.2011

Banned Milk - Feedback Friday



Los Angeles schools have decided to take a stand against childhood obesity by eliminating flavored milks (strawberry and chocolate) from their school menus effective July 1.

This flavored milk ban has also happened in other areas including, District of Columbia, Boulder Valley, Colorado, and Berkeley, California. The L.A. school district superintendent proposed this ban after famed chef Jamie Oliver criticized schools for serving this sugary beverage to children.

Tamar Galatzan, a school board member, opposed the decision by commenting "I really don't understand why we're letting a TV chef dictate our policy," It was noted that "the district serves fruit juices containing 27 to 29 grams of sugar per serving, more than the amount of sugar in flavored milk — 20 grams in 8 ounces of fat-free chocolate milk and 27 grams in fat-free strawberry."

The Institute of Medicine states that recent studies have shown that girls aged nine to 18 may be the only Americans in need of more calcium. However, chocolate and other flavored milks dominate 60 to 70 percent of all milk consumed in schools.

Washington school districts attempted to eliminate chocolate milk from elementary school menus last year only to reintroduce it months later after a backlash of emails from parents who worried that their children were being robbed of precious calcium and vitamin D.

It's Feedback Friday...

Do you believe flavored milks should be banned from school menus?

Would your child drink white milk if it was all that was offered? Would this ban effect your child's calcium intake?

Will this change make a difference in the childhood obesity statistics?

6.16.2011

NYC Faves


Fave Restaurants

Lunch/Otto



A simple PANE FRATTAU (pizza) with Tomato, Pecorina, and an Egg followed by Olive Oil Gelato with Basil Syrup, Mango Granita, Lime Curd, and Sea Salt. Out of this world!

Dinner/Daniel. Click to view the 6 course tasting menu we enjoyed for our anniversary celebration. It was an evening of outstanding food and impeccable service.

Fave transportation? The NYC Subway!



Fave place to explore? Central Park!



I always thought I wanted to be a city girl when I was a teen, but I was drawn to the park more than any other place. The top photo is the view from our room and the second is the view of our window from the park. This park is an amazing jewel.

Fave part of town? Soho!



We browsed in the many art galleries on Greene Street and discovered a new favorite artist, Nicholai Makarov, a Russian artist who paints dream-like landscapes and nudes. I'm obsessed.

Fave Self Portraits?



I was determined to get some photos of the two of us!

Fave (only) Famous Person? Wendie Malick!



She was long and lean, gorgeous without a stitch of makeup, with her hair in a pony, crossing Madison Avenue. The Big Guy missed the whole thing and wanted to turn around and follow her to get a look!

Fave unexpected fun? Festival of India!



We danced in the rain with the Hare Krishnas...okay, I danced in the rain with the Hare Krishnas while The Big Guy held the umbrella. We stumbled upon the Festival of India after lunch one day and the music was infectious!

Later in the weekend we also found ourselves in the middle of the Puerto Rican Day parade, let's just say it was not so peace-loving and happy as the Indian Festival. The crowds were huge and there were many drunk attendees.

Most Heartbreaking Museum tour? The National September 11 Museum



I cried my way through the entire display as I watched and read first-hand accounts of that terrible day. Photographs and artwork from local school children brought the victims to life for me in a very real way. I re-lived it all over again and can feel a knot in my throat even writing this paragraph. Every American needs to visit this museum and soon-to-be-completed memorial at least once in their lifetime.

So, that was our visit to NYC in a nutshell! Do you have any favorite spots I missed?

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6.13.2011

Tutorial Tuesday!

Hope Studios


Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday - If you are new here, this party is to showcase your weekly tutorials. What counts as a tutorial? Anything to Teach Me Stuff counts - a recipe, a kid's craft, a DIY project, how you got your baby to sleep through the night ... I'm not picky.

This week we made Coke Slushies!

Check out the Stuff I Learned last week...

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios







Easy Sundae Party



We planned to have a sundae party for the kids to celebrate the last day of school last week. 15 kids waiting for one ice cream scooper doesn't make for a fun party!

Here is a quick and easy tip to help with your next sundae party:

1. Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap.

2. Scoop your ice cream ahead of time and line up the scoops on the cookie sheet.

3. Wrap well and pop into the freezer overnight.

4. When it's time for the party, line up your bowls and quickly pop an ice cream ball into each.

5. Let the kids go crazy with toppings!

6.10.2011

Couple Getaway! Feedback Friday


The Big Guy and I are headed for NYC this weekend for an anniversary getaway (celebrating 15 years!) without the kids! We have not had even one night away from the kids since our Paris trip in 2009, so we are very excited for this special trip. Actually, I struggled to even find a photo of the two of us together for this post, so I had to look back in the Paris archives!

It isn't easy to coordinate a trip away - there are so many factors to consider - the hardest and most important is child care. But, where there is a will there is a way!

It's Feedback Friday...

How often are you able to get away as a couple?

How do you manage childcare?

Would you rather do every trip as a family?

6.08.2011

Summer Activity Prep


I am in the process of preparing my Summer Activity Stash this week. Thursday is my boys' last day of school (Whoo, hooo!) and I hate it when I have to run out to the store to execute a project when the "I'm Bored's" hit.

I like to collect all my project ideas and shop for everything at once and keep the supplies handy in a tote to grab whenever I need them. I'll be sharing projects as I go along this summer, but if you want to gather the same supplies so you are ready I'll pass on the shopping list I've compiled so far:

Diet Coke
Mentos
Sand
Plaster of Paris (2 bags)
shells
stones
feathers
string
yarn
flour
cornstarch
glitter
balloons
old CD's
dish soap lids
super glue
sun print paper (Oriental Trading Co.)
plastic garbage bags
contact paper
squirt bottles
acrylic paint
tempera paint
straws
card stock paper
long, thin wooden dowels
disposable cups and spoons
toilet paper rolls
bottle caps
empty water and soda bottles (I usually say "pop"!)
elastic beading cord
permanent markers
glycerin
food coloring
glue
cream of tartar
shallow cardboard boxes and misc. cardboard
small wood scraps


Happy almost summer break!

6.06.2011

Tutorial Tuesday!

Hope Studios


Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday - If you are new here, this party is to showcase your weekly tutorials. What counts as a tutorial? Anything to Teach Me Stuff counts - a recipe, a kid's craft, a DIY project, how you got your baby to sleep through the night ... I'm not picky.

This week we made Coke Slushies!

Check out the Stuff I Learned last week...

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios






Summer Slushy, Icee, Freezee...



Kimba was waxing nostalgic this week about her memories of Coke Icee's. Her post led me to Bake at 350 for a new kind of "recipe" for my ice cream maker!

I have to admit, I haven't used my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker much lately, but with the warmer weather hitting Pittsburgh, it really felt like summer this week. This recipe was right up my alley for fun summer fun:

Coke Slushy


Ingredients:

Cold Coke...the end.

Directions:

Pour Coke into frozen bowl of ice cream maker and turn on...the end.



For the next 20 minutes you should stick your nose in the hole and sniff...then sneak a spoon to taste test it...then bounce up and down and beg mom to "Pullleeezzze let us eat it!"



Scoop into fun snow cone cups (I found these super cheap at either Target or Walmart last season) and lounge on the back porch with your frozen treat...



Do you want to teach me something? Come on back tomorrow to link up with Tutorial Tuesday!

6.04.2011

Stuff I Learned!

Notebook Paper Bags for Teacher:



Ruffle Top Rainbow Cake! (**This cake also tied for 2nd most clicked link)



Comic Book Necklace:



Camping Party:



CLICK PICKS (this week's most clicked links):

#1 (by a landslide!) Sweet Summer Dress



#2 Poppin' Peepers

#3 Keep it clean in the Kitchen

6.03.2011

Breastfeeding Baby Doll - Feedback Friday

I'm a little slow with this story but let's talk about the controversial breastfeeding baby doll Bebe Gloton, now available in the U.S for the price of $118.

You can view the ABC News story here, but in general, the child wears a halter top with little flower petals over her breasts that trigger the sucking action in the doll.

Public reaction to this doll has ranged from praise for making breastfeeding more acceptable, to accusing the manufacturers of being pedophiles and perverts. An example of this mixed reaction can be seen here in this clip of The Talk:



It's Feedback Friday...

What is your first reaction to the breastfeeding baby doll?

Does your feeling change when you see it in action?

Do you think this toy would be beneficial to children or confusing?

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6.01.2011

Treading Water



It's the final two weeks of school for my kids and I'm feeling like I'm treading water just to keep afloat. I reach this point every school year where things start to fall apart around me. My house is a mess, I've gained 5 lbs., I'm forgetting appointments and volunteer schedules, homework isn't getting done, frames are piling up in my shop.

So, I'm treading water until June 9th when the schedule loosens up and I can take the summer to reorganize before jumping in again.

Please tell me I'm not alone! Do you fall apart at this time of the year?
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