Friday, April 18, 2014

Keep It Local: Third Floor at the National Portrait Gallery + American Art Museum

I'm not sure how we've been to the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum as many times as we have and missed the wonderful 20th century and contemporary art collections on the third floor, but last week we finally accidentally discovered them. We were actually trying to get over to American Cool, but were detoured by the installation of another exhibit. And thank goodness because the art on the third floor is awesome! It's big, it's loud, it's right up my alley. Cam was on the verge of a meltdown, so we didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted up there, but I'm guessing we'll be making a special trip back soon just for that. Don't miss out!

p.s. don't forget to enter our Thinkfun Giveaway -- it ends Sunday!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: Thinkfun Games Review + GIVEAWAY!!!

This post was sponsored by Thinkfun. We received free versions of the games we played in return for writing an honest review. The opinions in this post are our own.

As many of you know, we had a bit of a rough winter filled with much too much time spent indoors. So by the time "spring" started to show its face, we'd started to grow tired of our go-to games. We were SUPER excited when Thinkfun asked if we'd be interested in reviewing some of their brand new and recently re-released games. We picked out two for the 5+ crowd: Rush Hour, Jr. and Zingo! Word Builder and loved both of them.

Rush Hour, Jr. -- designed for children aged 5 - 15, Rush Hour Jr., is a fabulous logic game with varying levels of difficulty wherein the player solves a puzzle to unblock a traffic jam of cars and get the ice cream truck on its way. Both Kane and I play a similar game on mom's iPhone, so we picked this one up right away (and seemed to like that it was more tactile). It took a little restraint to remember not to lift the brightly-colored vehicles up off the board, but we thought it was fun to "drive" them around and rescue the ice cream truck.

Setting up the puzzles took a bit for me, but is just another part of the problem solving involved. We've been pretty good with taking turns and have made our way through most of the beginner cards so far. Mom likes that the game works for many different skill levels (even she had some trouble with the more difficult cards!) and that it could be portable -- it comes with a nice mesh bag for the pieces and the playing board is pretty compact.

Zingo! Word Builder -- intended for the K-2 grade crowd, this game of fill-in the blank Bingo is just a bit above both of our skill levels. Cam wouldn't sit still for it, but I liked sliding the Zinger forward to get the letter tiles. Each Zingo card is designed to accommodate two different skill levels (beginner on one side and more advanced on another) and each player can pick whatever side best suits them.

I'm not quite to the spelling phase, so mom let me slide the Zinger to get the letters and then she'd tell me the words I could spell with them on my card. I'd then try to find the beginning letter I recognized and finish spelling the word with the tile. Mom loved that the game provided an interactive and fun way to get me to focus on letters and that she could tailor it to my skill set now, while still having room to grow into it.

AND ... Thinkfun is giving away one of their new or recently re-released games to a lucky reader (U.S. readers only) -- your choice! You can pick one of the two games we reviewed, or from these other great games: Move & Groove, Last Letter, Zingo! Timetelling, Hoppers, or Square by Square

Enter by either liking our Facebook Page and following the prompt below OR commenting on this post through the prompt below. Extra chances to win by doing BOTH! 

The contest will run through Sunday, April 20th. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Keep It Local: Fort McHenry

Last summer, after reading "The Flag Maker" and as part of my general history kick, I became a bit obsessed with the War of 1812 and the Star Spangled Banner. So after our visit to the American Visionary Art Museum, which you can read about right here, mom thought we'd make a quick trip out to see the nearby Fort McHenry (the defense of which led Francis Scott Key to pen our national anthem). It was a HOT day, but we loved poking about the fort and imagining what it looked like defending B'more back in the day. There are several programs available at the Fort and we jumped in on the end of one that played out the great battle with props. But neither one of us was in much of a mood to stand still and listen. Instead we took to exploring by ourselves. There's not a whole lot to see, but it was fun nonetheless. And with spring breaks coming up, we thought it would be good to share a  little side trip that would be a good add on to visiting another Baltimore attraction (you can see our other B'more visits here).

You can find the Operating Hours for the Fort right here. Here's to good weather for spring break!

(this pic kills mom. note Cam's British skirt)

not exactly the bunk beds we've been wanting

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Keep It Local: Gravity's Edge at the Hirshhorn Museum

Back on a snow day in February, we took a trip down to one of our favorite museums to check out the Gravity's Edge exhibit at the Hirshhorn. Part of the museum's series of exhibitions drawn from it's own collection, Gravity's Edge does just as it suggests: it explores the force of gravity in artwork. Since we'd done drip paintings before, mom thought we would find it interesting. But neither of us were really in the mood -- even for the really fabulous installation "Corner Piece, 1969" by Lynda Benglis, which reminded mom so much of our sidewalk chalk art from a few years back. Mom, on the other had, loved the exhibit and made us sit and observe for a while even though we just wanted to get out in that snow. We got out there and tested gravity ourselves. Remember snow? Don't worry -- it's only April, surely it will be back.

Gravity's Edge will be at the Hirshhorn until June 15th -- mom says it's worth the trip.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Grub It Up: Frozen Hot Chocolate

So warmer weather finally seems to have moved in, but we decided that with the On-Demand release of the much-beloved "Frozen," we needed to make a frozen treat for movie viewing (mom might have been reaching a bit since it rained ALL weekend and daddy is on a long jaunt out of town, but we weren't complaining). It's not fancy, but that means it's an easy recipe and probably a good way to use up any of that powdered hot chocolate mix you've got left from spring errr.... winter. Here's the frezeal, you'll need: 

- 2 packages of single-serving hot chocolate mix
- 3 cups milk 
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups ice 
- whip cream and marshmallows 

In a blender, blend hot chocolate mix, milk and ice. Top however you'd like. Mom gave us some chocolate and vanilla macaroons, too. Yum! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: A Day in the Life (March 2014)

This month's 12-in-12 fell on a busy day where we both had lots of scheduled activities sans mom -- she had trouble snapping many photos of us. And so she didn't really fit within the 12-hour period. She also ended up with lots of shots with really bright colors. So she decided to Waterlogue them, an app with which she is totally obsessed like so many others. What do you think?

After you get your fill of us, head on over to Where the Watermelons Grow and No Monsters in My Bed to see what they were up to.

8.05 am -- Cam is big into picking out her own outfits these days, which almost always means a skirt or a dress, tights (NOT leggings), and some kind of pattern mixing. Today is zigzags + zigzags + stripes. 

10.00 am -- mom returns home from school drop off to find that Vegas ripped open the trash bag containing the entire contents of a broken glass jar of sundried tomatoes in oil (which mom dropped and broke all over the floor that morning) and spread it all through the house. after first slinking away upon mom's entry to the house, he fakes sleep (with open eyes).

11.30 -- it's mom's turn for the cocktail post on A Feteful Life this week so she mixes up a quick spring drink and shoots it on the roof in the 5-minutes of sun we had that day.

12.45 am -- mom heads to her training appointment. against all better judgment, mom ran a long run a few weeks ago on ice, rain and snow. not surprisingly, she hurt herself enough that she's not going to be able to run her planned 1/2 marathon. training is maddening, but slowly helping her get back to running. this winter is breaking all of us.

2.15 pm -- mom sets up at Hawthorne Homemade for lunch and to get some work done before pickup. 

3.45 pm -- as usual, Cam falls asleep on the way home from school. it's a delicate balance of bumping tunes loudly until she passes out and then switching over to the book on CD for Kane, hoping all the while she stays asleep without the music blasting. 

4.30 pm -- Kane's new method of "picking up his room" involves posing his toys in elaborate scenes on the shelves, which he claims technically falls within the ambit of cleaning, because they are "put away on shelves." here his vintage He-Man toys have gone awry and Skeletor appears to have taken over Battlecat. 

5.05 pm -- between our schedules and Daylight Savings Time, which is also destroying us right now, we've been eating dinner really late. so mom gives us a decent-sized snack late in the afternoon. she tries to keep our requests for a Zaytinya meal at bay by putting together a greek-inspired snack tray. Kane declares she can "start selling them to Zaytinya," so guess that went over well.

7.45 pm -- our little lady loves to get fancy, even for bedtime books. she insists on "dress jammies," wearing her "fancy shoes" for books, and brushing her own hair. Veg is over it.

8.15 pm -- we read another chapter of "Treasure Hunters," a great James Patterson kids book we borrowed from our buddies. Kane multitasks and etch-a-sketches scenes from the book. 

9.00 pm -- mom does dishes and eats leftover dessert props from party styling. it's a tough job. 

10.15 pm -- mom sets up her Macbook next to Cam's "princess computer" to do some photo editing before bed. the princesses. oh, the princesses. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Holidaze: St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Fun

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!! If you're anywhere in our area of the country, we understand if the snow has you confused. BUT it is indeed March and St. Paddy's Day! To celebrate, mom rounded up our favorite rainbow activities, all of which can be done indoors for those in the cold. AND stay tuned for a snow-related rainbow activity on our Facebook page later today!

- Rainbow Cupcakes
- Rainbow Popsicles
- Rainbow Roller Paintings
- Rainbow Scavenger Hunt
- Rainbow Shaving Cream Tub Paint