Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Horseback riding lessons

My girl is happy. And that makes me happy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lunch equipment

Do you know what I dreaded most about school starting? Lunch. Ok, I actually dreaded homework and missing my children the most but lunch was right up there too. Traditionally, packing a lunch has not been something I have excelled at. I vowed that this school year would be different and that I would send interesting, yummy and healthy lunches.

In order to help me fulfill this promise I have gathered some favorite things to help me out. The item I have found the most useful and helpful has been our new lunch container. Of course, I love that it cuts down on the use of plastic baggies but I also love that it gives just the right portion sizes. Plus, it's just easy to use.

I don't think that I will really be one to jump on the cute bento food wagon. I think it is adorable but I just don't see myself making the time to do it. However, I do think that these little food picks are super cute and can be used for anything! So far I'm using them for wraps and cherry tomatoes ( I purchased them on ebay). I also bought 6 inch bamboo skewers and have been sending in little kabobs (ham and cheese, etc.).

I mean who wouldn't smile if they opened up their lunch to find this giraffe looking at them?

I'm also trying to send in more little love notes in Grace's lunch. I've found several free printables online and I purchased these on Etsy. My Mom used to send me mouse stories on my napkin. Maybe I can work up to that!

I found these adorable napkins that have been a breeze to use. They are perfectly kid sized and have the cutest embroidery on them.

Does anyone have any fabulous ideas for lunches? I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Moonlit Tea Party

For Family Night last night we had a stargazing tea party. While we were in Maine we did some stargazing and I was amazed by all that we could see (I had never seen the Milky Way!). While the stargazing was not nearly of the same quality here it was still something fun to do together as a family. Add to that the fun of having an outdoor tea party and it was a great way to spend the evening!

To get ready for the tea party, Harris made Moon Scones, the children each made a night sky placemat and I warmed up the Milky Way Tea (milk, honey and vanilla), which was perfect right before bedtime! We spread out a quilt on the lawn, gazed upward and marveled at the night sky!

A Moonlit Tea Party Menu

Moon Scones with jam
Cheese stars and crescent moon apple slices
Milky way Tea

P.S. I got the idea for this tea party from The Tea Party Book by Lucille Recht Penner. Funny, I've had this book for years and have never used it. Now I want to host all of these little tea parties!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Fall

Goodbye summer, hello fall! We ushered in fall tonight with one of our favorite seasonal foods- Pumpkin Pancakes!

I do love fall and I'm looking forward to cooler weather, sweaters, boots, soups, cider, autumn color, Halloween decorations, costumes, pumpkins, blankets, apple picking, Thanksgiving with family and our first fire! What are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The best children's book to travel with... ever!

For years we have lugged multiple books with us every time we travel. Our bedtime routine of reading to the children is deeply entrenched and most definitely missed if we have to skip it.

As much as I love children's books, I don't love lugging around their heavy bulk. The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury solves that problem in a beautiful way! It contains 44 classic and soon to be classic stories including Curious George, Goodnight Moon, Make Way for Ducklings and even Winnie-the-Pooh.

We took this book to Maine and read from it every day. We found many stories that we loved and discovered some that we hadn't read! With 44 stories we never ran out of stories and I didn't have to pack an extra bag. I think that this book would make a marvalous gift to new parents! You can read more about this book here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Premixed Pancakes

My children have decided that they longer like to eat cereal for breakfast. I suspect that they realize that it really doesn't fill them up for long and that a hearty breakfast will help carry them further through the morning.

Of course, whipping up pancakes on a school morning takes time at a point where time is of the essence. Therefore, we have premixed all the dry ingredients for our pancake batter so that in the morning all we have to do is add the wet ingredients. It simplifies making pancakes tremendously! I love this recipe because it consistently produces delicious, fluffy pancakes.

Don't you love the chalkboard label? It was perfect for writing the amounts to mix into the dry ingredients! Now it's possible to make pancakes quickly- even though it's still not as fast as cereal it's definitely tastier!

P.S. I got this recipe from Country Living several years ago. If anyone is interested in it I will be happy to post the recipe or email it to you!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bubble bath

Last weekend, Harris had a food impaction that required him to be at the hospital all day (this was due to eosinophilic esophagitis). By the end of the day we were all tired and a bit anxious, especially Grace who gets very worried about her brother. At bedtime I drew a bath for her using a bath product that we had picked up while in Maine. I was hoping that it would help her to settle into a more relaxed state of mind. It worked and as a bonus made our upstairs smell absolutely divine!

I love that Little Twigs bubble bath is all natural and can be safely used without worry about sensitive skin issues, urinary tract infections (used in moderation) and a lovely smell instead of an artificial bubblegum smell! Grace loves that it actually bubbles!

P.S. I saw that you can order Little Twigs on the Target website!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pirate Ship Playhouse

If you have been reading this blog since close to the beginning you might remember Harris' pirate birthday party. At that party the focus was supposed to be on our new pirate ship playhouse that Bryce built- but it rained. Soon after the party we did manage to paint and stain the ship but many of the details never quite got finished. We are a little embarrassed that it took us almost two years to finish everything but we feel better by assuring ourselves that it has been totally play worthy, just not as cute as it could have been.
While we were in Annapolis we found a fun pirate ship flag and that is what propelled us to finish everything up! We gave the ship a fresh coat of paint, added some twine rigging, a flagpole and we christened it with a name!

We still felt like something was missing though. Everyone knows that pirate ships have a figurehead and we really felt like ours should have a frog to match it's name. Fortunately, we happened to have a garden statue that had been in the throwaway pile numerous times but somehow kept finding it's way back into the garage! It was meant to be! Bryce cut the frog in half, spray painted it, set it on wood and then mounted it to the ship. I LOVE it and think it adds just the right touch to the ship!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A quiche story

I have always struggled with the question of what to eat the evening, afternoon or morning that we get back from a vacation. We have often straggled in around dinnertime with no notion of what to fix from our very empty refrigerator and cabinets. The obvious solution would be to order pizza, but more often than not we are tired of eating out at restaurants and are ready for some home cooking.

I think I might have found an answer that kills several birds with one stone. Quiche! I doubled the recipe to make two pies instead of one. This also helped me to use up perishables that were in my refrigerator such as eggs, milk and cheese. I cooked both of the quiches, we ate one for dinner and I froze the other one.

Since we got back from Maine in the very late hours of the night we enjoyed the quiche (warmed up in the oven) the next day for lunch. A very yummy solution to my problem!

P.S. This was an heirloom tomato and onion quiche that was absolutely delicious. A friend gave me the recipe but I think she must have gotten it from here.

P.S.S. It would be ideal to serve the quiche with a side salad but since our cupboards were bare we did without.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A first birthday (party)

I have a dear friend, Sonja, who somehow makes mothering four children look easy. Her youngest, Shona, just turned one and to celebrate she had a flower themed outdoor party that was loads of fun and that I was happy to be able to participate in!

Sonja wanted everything to be bright and cheerful so we kept to pink, oranges and yellows for the color scheme of the party. We made 62 cupcakes (Kristin made chocolate, I made vanilla), numerous tissue paper flowers and dozens of flower lollipop favors.

I made a lollipop garden smash cake for Shona. It's one of my favorite cakes because it was so sweet, petite and simple.

The children had an absolute blast on the GIANT water slide!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Maine- Bringing books to life

I've saved my favorite thing we did in Maine for last. You all know that I love children's books and I firmly believe that reading opens up whole worlds for children that they might never know if it weren't for books. Therefore, I really try to make books come alive for the children whenever I can. This trip provided a unique opportunity to make several books "real" to the children and provide them some insight as to how an author can be inspired by what is around them. I loved it as much- if not more than- the children did.

A Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

Bucks Harbor was only about 10 minutes away from where we stayed while in Maine. It was a thrill to realize that the pictures he drew looked exactly like the real buildings! Sadly, Condon's Garage closed a few years ago but the building looks the same, we even found the pumps where the gas used to be!

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

E.B. White lived in Brooksville, Maine. We visited the sweet library that it is said he was fond of and the librarian showed us some prints, from his book Stuart Little, that he donated to the library.

We also drove by his (privately owned) old home.

Grace and I also went to the Blue Hill County Fair! The fair that Charlotte and Wilbur go to in Charlotte's Web was based off of this very fair! (Unfortunately, Harris and Bryce were not able to go with us because we had all spent the day at the ER for a potential appendicitis case. Fortunately, it was not appendicitis but Harris was exhausted and still not feeling great!)

Grace loved the fair and we had a really nice time together though I will admit that seeing the fair through my adult eyes was a lot different than I remember it as a child! Grace wanted to go on the Farris Wheel first since Fern and Henry Fussy spent time together on this ride!

Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

I just happened to throw this in my bag before we left. As the week progressed on and it looked like Hurricane Earl was going to be coming our way Bryce and I had a good laugh that maybe this was taking the concept of bringing books to life a little too literally! Fortunately, all we got was some heavy rain.

The children enjoyed seeing references in the book to things that they had seen during the week such as Pumpkin Island and the Victory Chimes!

P.S. Can someone tell me if these pictures are clickable to make them bigger? They used to be but now they no longer are for me!

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