Friday, August 31, 2012

Get Funky: Big Painting with Funky "Brushes"

It started out as an innocent attempt to make a "welcome home" from work sign for Nona and it turned into a whole lot of funky painting fun.  We decided to use one of our play cleaning sets as paint brushes and went to town on big paper outside.  Pretty soon our feet were in on it.  Then our hands.  And, no surprise, pretty much all of our bodies.  Good thing mom thought ahead and had us in our swimsuits!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hazel, Stardust in Your Eye: Nutella Popsicles

We think you'd be hardpressed to think up something made with Nutella that didn't taste like the most delicious think that ever hit your lips, but there's no reason to make it complicated.  Simply mix together:

- 1/3 cup Nutella
- 1 cup whole milk

Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.  We finally got ourselves a quick-freeze Zoku, which was a necessity for these pops -- there was no way we were waiting overnight for them.  Pretty much the most fantastic fudgsicle you've ever tasted.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rolling on the River: Long Branch Nature Center

Daddy used to live in Virginia back in the day -- not too far from the Long Branch Nature Center.  Even then mom had her differences with the Commonwealth, but lucky for us, she liked daddy enough to spend time at his house there.  And they used to take brand new baby dog Vegas to the dog park there so he could roll in all kinds of naturey things and swim in the river.

On one of our "just in town long enough to drop dirty laundry off" trips a few weeks ago, they decided it would be fun to go back and check it out with us.  We hit up the playground first, which they remembered as being much more spectacular -- likely because they didn't have any kids the last time they were there.  But the playground is right next to the river and that's where we spent most of our time.  We are rock throwing fanatics and the water was just low enough that we could climb out onto a big rock in the middle of the river and toss away.  Pretend fishing was a big hit, too.

Eventually, we made our way back to the nature center and, after checking out the usual assortment of live and used-to-be-alive animals, we found the kids' room!  There was all kinds of dress up, art projects, books, and blocks.   AND there was a stuffed mozzie toy, which was particularly appropriate given our recent experience with the little suckers.

When we were done, mom and dad took us to one of their other VA favorites -- Lost Dog Cafe, which now has several locations in Virginia.  Lost Dog has an incredible number of amazing sandwiches, baked waffle fries, and beer to go.  And while they don't technically have a kids' menu, if you ask, they'll work with you -- we stuffed our faces with butter noodles.  The yummy food is a good enough reason to visit, but they also run a doggie (and cat) rescue, which we love wholeheartedly.  So if you're in the area -- check it out!

kane trying to explain to daddy why and how he expected him to sit in the rocket ship properly.

get that mozzie! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Castle Made of Sand: Water Bead Sand Castle

After our iced up water beads defrosted, mom and I decided to make some jewelry with them using beach grass.  But because they were so plumped, they didn't hold up well enough to wear .  So we decided to decorate our King Turtle Knight's castle with them -- mom wanted them to be like flags, I wanted them to be shooting cannons.  Either way, they looked really pretty sparkling in the sun.  When we get sick of using just water in our water table and add sand back in, I'm guessing these will make a reappearance.

giving King Turtle Knight a legit armor suit of shells

Monday, August 27, 2012

Purple Haze: Japanese Suminagashi Marbling

We've old pros at shaving cream marbling, but mom has been weary of marbling with oil (even her tolerance for mess occasionally has some limit).  She came across this Japanese Suminagashi marbling kit and thought it looked like it would make some cool marbling effects without the mess of the oil.  So we brought it with us on our trip to Princess Anne.  After reading the directions, mom realized that this would probably be done best with one of us at a time -- the kit comes with a tiny circle of paper that floats on top of the water and you have to drop the ink very carefully on the paper circle so that it then spreads out across the surface of the water instead of sinking to the bottom.  Mom and I developed a plan -- I'd pick out the colors, she'd drop them on the circle, and then I'd make the design (we blew the oil gently across the water and also swirled it with a paint brush).  Once I was happy with the design, mom would help me place a piece of paper on top of the water, which picks up the ink and makes super trippy pictures.

It took a little more strong arming on mom's part than normal (I was in a MOOD all week), but once we set it all up, I made picture after picture.  And once I lost interest, mom kept it going.  We broke it out for a second time and marbled on top of some marker drawings I had already done -- the marker ran and spread out over the paper, too.  After a lot of random marbling, we started trying to plan out some marbling pictures because I wanted to use them as the background pages to write a story.  We haven't gotten that far yet, but that is our current plan for some of them.  Now what are we going to do with the 8,999 other marbled pictures?

Friday, August 24, 2012

All You Can Eat: Maryland Blue Crab, Two Ways

The crab pots off of our dock were chock full upon our arrival in Princess Anne last week and we emptied and filled them again before we had departed.  We're not sure if we're crabbing geniuses or just have good luck, but we had plenty of crab to gobble up all week long.  The first night we had a traditional crab feast of steamed crabs, corn on the cob, and red potatoes -- recipe below.  Later that week we (and by "we," I mean Grammie B) picked steamed crabs and made delicious crab cakes.  Grammie makes a mean crab cake using a family recipe, but we had to make do with what we had at the house for this batch.  They were still delicious, but we thought it would be fun to share the recipe for our family faves.  So here you have it.

If you are looking for a good local spot to buy crabs, try the Maine Avenue Fish Market on the SW Waterfront.  We haven't been yet, but word is that the picking is good.

Steamed Maryland Crabs
First get yourself some live crabs -- we had a hilarious time figuring out how to get them out of the pot and stay bite free.  We cooled ours down with some ice, which slowed them enough to be handled injury free.  Rinse them off.  In the bottom boiler of a crab steaming pot, bring to boil:

- 1 cup water
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1-2 cans of flat beer

Then, in the top portion of the double boiler, place the crabs in layers, sprinkling each layer generously with Old Bay seasoning.  Cover and wait for wisps of steam to begin escaping from under the lid, about 5-10 minutes.  Continue to steam over high heat for an additional 20-30 minutes until crabs turn bright orange/red.  If the crabs have dark red or greenish patches, they are not yet fully cooked.

We served ours with lots of Old Bay, plenty of butter, corn on the cob and red potatoes.  YUM.

Jim Rouse's Crab Cakes 
Mix the following ingredients in a bowl:

- 2 tbs. mayonnaise
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
- 1 dash Tobasco sauce
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 6 crackers, crushed

Add 1 lb. crab meat (backfin or lump preferred) to the above mixture.  Turn it all together with your hands, very gently to avoid breaking the crab lumps.  Make into slightly flattened cakes.  Coat lightly with butter.  Broil until light brown on top. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer Holiday: Glamping

For a variety of reasons, mommy and daddy have not yet taken us camping.  But mommy grew up camping off and on and thought she'd take advantage of Grammie and Grandpa B's expertise on our trip to Princess Anne.  They brought the green tent they'd used when mommy grew up (GREEN!) and we brought our sleeping bags.  It turned out that the mosquitoes really restricted us to staying inside in the evenings, but that wasn't going to stop us.  Grammie and Grandpa set up the tent on the deck right in the middle of the day, we pretended to nap in it, played in it, had a glamping dance party, and we fired up the campfire for some mid-day, mozzie free s'mores.  This just might be the best way to glamp.

we are supposed to sleep in this thing?

fierce dancing face.