Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chocolate Day

(This summer I am going to try to do "theme days" where we focus on something specific for the day. I am borrowing this idea from Katherine whose blog I have been following for a while now. Her theme weeks are absolutely amazing and her beautiful photography is the icing on the cake. She's inspiring, really.)

Our first theme day was Chocolate Day! Since we are soon going to Hershey Park it was an appropriate and anticipation building theme for us to celebrate.

We started a few weeks ago by reading the novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Every night the children looked forward to the next chapter and it was fun reading it as a family!

We kicked off the day this morning with chocolate pancakes and chocolate milk for breakfast. Bryce even added chocolate syrup to his!

We made chocolate playdough- which of course led the children to pretending to be Oompa Loompas making candy for Willy Wonka.

Chocolate milkshakes (with a cherry!) were a much needed cool treat that resulted in some very handsome mustaches. As we enjoyed our milkshakes we learned a bit about where chocolate comes from and how it is made.

We conducted a taste test to determine what our favorite flavors of chocolate were. We stayed pretty basic with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, extra dark and semi-sweet. We made notes about each piece that we tried and then determined what our favorites were. It was discovered that we all prefer dark chocolate! Though if you really look at Harris' notes I think the straight mouth (#3 was the regular dark) indicates that he thought it was just ok. I'm pretty sure he changed his mind at the last minute.

We ended the day with a nice, relaxing soak in... chocolate! I mixed together powdered milk, cocoa, cornstarch and a touch of cinnamon to make a bath powder. The smell in the bathroom was delicious!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A frog sprinkler

Over the weekend while the rest of my family was enjoying time in the great out of doors, I was doing a bit of antiquing! I found myself in a favorite store eyeing an item that I've eyed for almost a year.

A year ago Gretchen told me about a frog sprinkler that she saw and really thought I needed to purchase. I went to see the frog sprinkler and couldn't really make up my mind about it. Was it ugly? Was it so ugly that it was cute? Was it weird? Or was it kitschy- in a good way?

The price was what made up my mind for me. It was too much to spend on something I was unsure about. So for the past year every time I found myself in the store I always asked them what their lowest price would be. It was always a little lower than it was before but still not enough for me to whip out my checkbook. Until this weekend.

Gretchen and I once again found ourselves in the antique store. This time the saleslady recognized me and laughed that I was asking (again) about this frog. However, this time the owner of the store was present and offered it to me for half off. Gretchen made me buy it.

I was still a little unsure until I got it home and hooked it up to the hose. And then I fell in love. I LOVE how the water comes out! It transforms the whole frog. Of course he looks right at home in the children's garden and actually does a thorough job of watering. And I suspect that on days where a pool visit isn't planned he will make a perfect sprinkler for the children to frolic around!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer and Camping t-shirts

It's official. Summer has begun! Yesterday marked the last day of school for Grace. I now have a third grader and a kindergartner. But I really can't talk about that yet.

The children and Bryce are embarking on their 3rd annual "School is Over, Let's Camp with Dad" trip. They are beyond excited and thrilled. Once again Bryce had t-shirts made to commemorate the event. He used the same basic drawing as last year but put in the new tent, took away Grace's bangs and added the new year. I think they are awesome.

P.S. Notice Harris' camping belt? That was Bryce's when he was little.

P.S.S. I miss them already.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our Peter Rabbit

In the last post I mentioned that our children's garden has its very own Peter Rabbit. At first we thought it was very cute and fun to have a bunny in the garden but that changed quickly as our moonflower and morning glory vines were snipped in two and plants were munched down to the nub.

Our blueberries have slowly been disappearing. We assumed it was the birds (netting will have to be used next year!) but apparently the bunny has been helping himself as well. We thought it was fun to compare the real life version next to Beatrix Potter's version. If you squint and look really hard you can see our (horribly out of focus) Peter up on his hind legs eating the berries. Talk about life imitating art!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mr. McGregors (boot) Garden

The children and I have recently planted a boot garden that we are lovingly referring to as Mr. McGregor's garden. Since we planted Thumbelina Carrots, Easter Radishes, Parsley and Chamomile and all are mentioned in The Tale of Peter Rabbit we thought it was an appropriate name. Not to mention the fact that we seem to have our very own Peter Rabbit in the garden. More on that later...

When Grace was a toddler, I came upon these frog boots in the clearance bin and bought them thinking that they would be cute for her when she was older. Of course, I didn't realize just how much older she would have to be. They are huge! They are so huge that I'm sure that by the time she or Harris could wear them they will not be at an age where they will want to wear frog rainboots!

Harris and I drilled holes in the soles of the boots so that water could drain out. It wasn't as easy as I assumed it would be. The fabric lining kept twisting with the drill bit and we finally had to cut away as much of the lining as we could.

We filled the boots up with dirt and planted the seeds in the heel, toe and middle.

Of course after we were done planting we had to read the Tale of Peter Rabbit. We are lucky enough to have a very large book that contains the whole Beatrix Potter collection. Of course the stories are charming and the illustrations beautiful.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

Happy Summer everyone! Tonight, to celebrate the summer solstice and the official start of summer, we read a book in the garden. The Longest Day by Wendy Pfeffer explains what the summer solstice is and gives examples of how different cultures celebrate the day. It also has a few activities for celebrating.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

We celebrated Father's Day with breakfast outside, several hours at the pool and some froggy cookies.

One of the most special things about the day was the fact that the children really participated and took ownership in the preparation for the celebration. Grace gathered and arranged the flowers on the table, Harris made the sugar cookies (with my assistance, of course), and it was a team effort to decorate the cookies and to put the breakfast kabobs together.

Both of the children made something for Bryce at school but I also got him a gift that I was really pleased with.

In the little bag (I followed these instructions) I put some chocolates that I might or might not have felt the need to taste test just in case they weren't really, really good. (They were.)

Remember how I have mentioned that Bryce loves the card game, Peanuts? He has at least four sets of cards that he keeps at the ready for a game and they are kept in a plastic bag. When I saw this die card holder I just knew that I had to get it. And since it was for Father's Day I thought he needed a new set of cards that features the best Dad we know and his adorable sidekicks.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My favorite pool bag

Since I plan on spending some time at the pool this weekend I thought I would share my favorite pool bag. It's actually a garden bag (from the now defunct Smith and Hawken) but it works beautifully as our pool bag. I've carried it to the pool for the past four years and I still love it!

It has lots of pockets for all the little things, plus a big interior for towels, cover-ups and a change of clothes.

Somehow, we manage to fit all of this (and more) into the bag!

P.S. I always pay the extra $5 to get my children's names monogramed on their towels, it saves time trying to figure out whose towels are whose!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lavender Lemonade

Some of you might recall that I have a love of lavender. We use it in our cleaning products and we visited a lavender farm last year! Last summer I planted some lavender plants by our walkway in the back of the house and they have done very well!

I came across a recipe for Lavender Lemonade and simply had to try it. I was very pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Bryce proclaimed it very well might be the best lemonade he has ever had! This recipe was featured in O, the Oprah Magazine in August 2002.

Lavender Lemonade

3 cups sugar
7 sprigs lavender (stems and buds), plus additional for garnish
2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 12 lemons)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 5 limes)


In a large saucepan, bring one gallon of water and the sugar to a boil. Remove from heat; add 7 lavender sprigs and lemon and lime juices. Cool to room temperature, strain, and chill. Serve on ice, with additional lavender for garnish.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Star- or a Venus- is born

Today Grace and her classmates put on a show about the solar system. They have been working very hard on their lines and dance moves and it really showed. They did fantastic!

Grace was a wonderful Venus! She spoke her lines loudly, clearly and with expression. We were very proud of her.

Please take note that she lost yet another tooth. That's three in a row...literally. Pretty soon she is going to have to gum her food.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Garden Journal

Grace has started keeping a garden journal for the children's garden. I purchased the spiral bound journal from Bare Books and I just love how these book are literally blank canvases. It will be interesting to me to see how she chooses to use the journal. Will she write of her adventures in the garden? Keep track of what is planted, growing or blooming? Or simply sketch pictures?

Her first entry was sweet and simple. It tells of how we put fake toadstools in the corsican mint. I love that she knew what the ground cover was and her accompanying sketch makes me smile.

Even though the new toadstools are fake I think they are darling! I love the pop of red against the chartreuse of the mint!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cherry Pie

I've never made a from scratch cherry pie and I thought it was time that I did. Plus, I have the best helper, a helper that will pit 2 pounds of cherries and be glad to do it.

We were able to use the Cherry Chomper that we got last year on our Vermont vacation (remember our beloved butter girl- he must be her cousin!). It doesn't get every pit everytime but it sure does make it fun for the children. Things started out relatively neat but got messy fast!

After all of the cherries were pitted it was easy to make the rest of the pie using one of Martha's recipes.

I'm not a huge fan of cooked fruit desserts, but I thought it was tasty and I did love how rustic it looked. Harris said he prefers "unroasted" cherries! Of course, we thought it also called for some vanilla ice cream. Yum.

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