Thursday, February 28, 2013

Your Dough is My Dough: Oatmeal Playdough

Oatmeal is one of our breakfast staples -- especially when the weather is chilly. But we are big fans of the fruit & cream variety (we love to "pick" our own flavor each time) and not the old school plain oats. So when mom recently made us black bean and quinoa veggie burgers (quick tangent -- this was a big mistake, mom. yes, some of our favorite items are separately black beans, corn, quinoa and oats. but you put all that mess together and call it a burger? what are you, new? that's great that you and dad loved it, because there were a lot of leftovers), we had a giant container of Quaker Oats quick oats left crowding up our pantry and we started scheming.

We first decided to have a spa day and make oatmeal masks. Then mom came to her senses and realized that we both flip out when she washes our hair and gets even a drop of water on our face. So washing off an oatmeal mask might not work out so well. A few quick googles later and we settled on oatmeal playdough. It took a bit of tinkering, but we thought the following recipe came out best: 

- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 cups quick oats
- 1 cup warm water

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with hands until dough forms (we keep our flour in the freezer and got a kick out of mixing the cold flour and warm water together). If the dough is still too sticky for you, add some more flour until you get a nice, workable texture.

This turned out a super cool, yummy smelling, textured dough that even gave us a nice hand treatment while we played. Mom and Cam worked on an oatmeal zoo and I asked for wax paper to make oatmeal saltwater taffy. Not sure how long this will last for, we put it in the fridge and figure we'll get at least one more play out of it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Keep It Local: Union Market

Mom fell down a food blog rabbit hole last week and somehow landed on DC Eater's post on "15 New DC Sandwiches That Are Selling Like Crazy." Among the popular sandwich joints listed was Red Apron Butchery at the recently revitalized Union Market, which opened last September. The favorite sandwiches there included a porkstrami? Done.

We hit up the Market fairly early on a Sunday morning -- it opens at 8 a.m. on Sundays, but some things were still getting started. First stop was obviously Peregrine Espresso for mom and dad. And then Curbside Cupcakes for Kane and me (we'd technically already eaten breakfast at home). We walked around, sampling yummy things -- pickles, cheese, honey. Kane bought mom and me each a flower. We oogled at the giant pig hanging from hooks at a butchery stand ("don't worry mom, he's dead," Kane explained). Mom gawked at the delish spread at Rappahannock Oyster Co. where you can eat right at the oyster counter. Brunch was bumping at Buffalo & Bergen, which offers a New York soda shop inspired counter and appeared to be dishing out legit New York bagels and egg creams.

Dad bought a paper and we set up at a table with a view of the neighboring wholesale warehouses (in addition to the counters at several restaurants, there is a sizeable area of general seating available). Mom and Kane worked their way through Kane's Greek mythology book and I sipped fizzy water and danced. It was the first real lazy Sunday morning mom and dad think they've ever had since the two of us arrived on the scene. We hung out until lunch time and then got down to business.

We shared a Buffalo & Bergen chocolate egg cream while daddy procured Red Apron sandwiches -- a deluxe grilled cheese for the kiddos, a meatball sub for dad, and, surprise surprise, porkstrami with 'kraut for mom. YUMMERS.

We look forward to spending more time here as the Market grows and checking out some of the shops that were closed (Trickling Springs Creamery for ice cream) or contained too many breakable items for us that morning (Salt & Sundry). The hope is that the Market will serve as an anchor to revitalize the entire area and, right now, it's much like a scaled down San Francisco Ferry Marketplace (although obviously not oceanfront). There also seems to be a great schedule of ongoing events held at the Market, including a Gospel Choir Brunch the first Saturday of every month, which is coming up this week and looks awesome. Maybe we'll see you there.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Miscellaneous Madness: Kane's Winter Book Reviews

It's pretty obvious by now, but we've spent A LOT of time indoors this winter. Cami has been waffling back and forth on her afternoon nap and mom has been trying to keep me quiet in an effort to keep the nap alive. So we've been reading a lot of books. My Grammie B got me the Boxcar Children bookshelf set for my birthday last fall and ever since we started reading those, I've been very into the concept of chapter books. In any event, I thought I'd share my likes and dislikes about the batch of books we finished recently. The weather doesn't look like it's improving any time soon, so I think we'll keep on reading ....

These are organized in order from my most favorite to least favorite (although, I didn't really dislike any of them) and mom's notes are highlighted, too. AND most of my reviews reveal the plot, so don't be surprised by some spoilers! 

Usborne Greek Myths
- Liked: When Perseus knocked off the head of Medusa. When Hades took Persephone - I thought it was funny. It was crazy. When Pandora opened the box - it was crazy. When Heracles killed the man-eating lion.

- Didn't Like: When Athene appeared and tore Arachne's weaving. When Heracles tried to catch the golden stag. When the Centaur tried to attack the feast.

- Mom's notes: We bought this book because we started reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and it was a bit too scary (even skipping over parts). But Kane seemed to really like the concept of Greek mythology and the idea that the Greeks used gods to explain what was going on in the world. So I looked for a children's version of basic Greek myths. The Usborne book is great -- it's small in size (so can be easily tucked in a bag, which I did and we read it all over the place this winter), the illustrations are pretty, and the stories are each only a few pages (some are a series of stories, such as Odysseus' journeys). 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)
- Liked: When Hermione became friends with Harry. I liked the whole thing, actually.

- Didn't Like: When they found the sorcerer's stone because I wanted to follow Hagrid, not the kids. They were so curious about the stone.

- Mom's notes: I knew Kane's imagination would love this book, but I was worried about it being too violent/scary/emotionally advanced (a lot of it is about his dead parents, FGS). I definitely skimmed over things that I thought fell into that category (although we've already talked some about the concept of death, so that seemed to be OK with him). His review is pretty thin, but in reality, he LOVES this book. He and Cami (who loves Hermione) regularly play "Harry Potter" and both received Gryffindor robes for the holidays. I haven't bought any more in the series -- I think we need to wait a bit as I remember them getting pretty scary quickly. But he seems satisfied with this one for now.

How to Train Your Dragon (Book 1)
- Liked: All the things in this book. Toothless [the main dragon] was so funny.

- Didn't Like: When they killed Green Death because he was cool -- I liked sharped teeth dragons. It's good to guard. In fact, I have a Green Death -- I got him before he was extinct.

- Mom's notes: We purchased this book upon recommendation of a clerk at Barston's Child's Play in D.C. after I told her I was looking for a beginning chapter book that was very imaginative, but not so violent. This is actually still violent, but not in a super scary way and there's not a lot of people fighting people. But more importantly, it's hysterical. Kane about peed his pants at several points in the story. And, at a parent level, it's about a kid trying to "train" a very, very stubborn dragon. He has to get creative when the "authority book" on the issue falls thin on advice. All of which is hilarious for a parent having tried to follow numerous parenting books on how to deal with a very, very stubborn kid. We are about to start the second in this series, How to be a Pirate.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Liked: Charlie and when Violet Beauregarde got purple. When grandpa jumped out of the bed.

- Didn't Like: Veruca Salt -- she was bratty.

- Mom's notes: This was the other Child's Play recommendation and Kane (and Cami) loved it. The humor is very British and I love that I can use the various characters as warnings for them -- Cami routinely tell's Kane that he is "being Veruca Salt." Pretty funny. I remember thinking the oompa loompas were scary when I was young, but they didn't seem to think so. 

Fly Guy Series #3 & 7
- Liked (#7): When they were playing hide and seek. 

- Didn't Like (#7): When Buzz was making so much noise. 

- Liked (#3): I liked the cover, it was green. I didn't like anything else.

- Mom's notes: These are funny, short little stories about a boy's pet fly and I think they'll be good for basic word recognition (we aren't there yet).

Magic Treehouse Series #1 - 4
- Liked: In the pirate book, I like when they go aboard the ship. I liked everything about the other books. 

- Didn't Like: In the pirate book, I don't like when it starts raining. 

- Mom's notes: This popular series follows the adventures of a brother and sister as they visit various places and time periods through books they find in a magic treehouse.  The stories are creative and have pictures scattered throughout, which both of my kids liked. I don't think they were enough drama for Kane though -- he seems to prefer books like Harry Potter and How to Train Your Dragon. Also, because I am the one reading them to him, we go through these rather quickly. I think these will be great beginner reading books though, once we get there. 

Boxcar Children #1 - 4
- Liked: I liked when the children found Watch. That's all I like about this story. I didn't like anything else about it. 

- Didn't Like: When the kids ran away from the bakers. 

- Mom's notes: This series about a family of runaway children was one of my favorites when I was little. Kane actually liked all of the Boxcar Children stories we've read so far, but only commented on the first book. I think his favorite was actually #2, Surprise Island -- the kids uncover Indian artifacts and build their own museum. Kane thought that was the bees knees. Overall, the stories are easy to read and suspenseful, but a little outdated and required some skipping of words/phrases that I thought were a little offensive/stereotypical. Also, the little girls outschool me in homemaking any day of the week and really appear to LOVE cleaning, cooking and baking. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Keep It Local: Winkler Botanical Preserve

Yesterday, having already been home three days this school week (holiday, sick day, daddy stole our car keys day), I told mom I couldn't go to school. "I'm too tired," I told her. "You slept all night long. I know that because I slept in your bed with you for the third night in a row," she said. Hm. "My knee hurts?" I tried. "You are going to school," she insisted. Then she checked her email. "BLEEP BLEEPITY BLEEP. You're not going to school. The heater broke."

It was 27 degrees out. Again. But the cleaning crew was coming and we had to get out of the house. And while there are bars open close to our house at 7:30 a.m., instead mom checked No Monsters In My Bed's list of outdoor activities for something new and found it: Winkler Botanical Preserve -- a 44 1/2 acre private preserve in the middle of Alexandria sprawl. The preserve was recently threatened by VDOT plans to put a 395 exit ramp and roadway through the middle of it (because why would you want to leave any smidge of green space?), but it appears it's been saved. PHEW. Because this place is awesome. Random (you can see and hear NOVA development through the trees), but awesome.

The public entrance to the preserve is just through an apartment complex parking lot. There was a little kiosk at the entrance, but it was unmanned and there was no trail information. So we just took off following what looked like the trail to us. We'd heard that there was a "hobbit house" and we were on the lookout for that -- I was pretty sure we'd find Hagrid there. We thought we spotted it through the trees, but it turned out to be a pretty serious looking rockclimbing tower (the preserve runs a highly coveted summer camp and that appeared to be part of it).

We wound our way around a decent-sized lake and heard a group of school children arrive -- they were the only people we saw during our visit and they were only there a short time. They did draw our attention to a large rustic lodge, but we still had our hearts set on finding that hobbit house. Our hike (and this really is a hike -- it's a path, but hilly and rocky -- NOT stroller accessible) took us down to a little stream and we took up our favorite water-related nature activity: rock throwing. It was partly frozen, so that was even better. And then I spotted the hobbit house, across the river and up another hill. We took off. Only to find it LOCKED. Boo.

No worries. We continued our hike to a gentler, more shallow part of the stream and took up rock throwing again. I worked on a dam and Cam requested larger and larger boulders to chuck. We eventually grew a little cold and worked our way up to the lodge ("Catherine's Lodge") only to find that CLOSED, too. And no one around to explain what the deal was. And there's not much info online. SO, you can bet we'll be back in warmer weather (probably before that summer camp starts) to play in the shallow stream and find out what's what with the what with those cabins.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Keep It Local: Out of the Ordinary at the Hirshhorn

Kane is nursing the last few days of a cold (oy, this winter) and no one's been getting much sleep, so momma decided we could extend our holiday weekend another day and all play hookey (I've now started calling mom "momma"). Well, not daddy. Daddy headed out of town for work. And accidentally took mom's keys with him, including her car keys. A nice little surprise she discovered as we were trying to leave to head down to the Hirshhorn to check out the new "Out of the Ordinary" exhibit.

After eventually locating a spare set of house keys (there is no spare car key as they cost some ridiculous amount of money, which mom knows because she lost hers before), we headed out to the metro. In the rain. Without a stroller for me. Because the stroller is in the locked car, obvi.

We were still optimistic and perked up when we came above ground at L'enfant and eyed up the food trucks. We've been on a serious mission to track down the Dangerously Delicious Pies food truck -- our last attempt found a parked, running truck that appeared to have no one inside it? No pie today, but we spotted a good selection for lunch. Now, on to the art.

I've been to see the Ai Weiwei exhibit several times with momma (check out our previous post here), but Kaney had never been. We showed him the Zodiac heads first and then headed inside. And we could tell almost immediately it wasn't going to be the best day -- it was crowded, Kane clearly still didn't feel good, and it had been a while since momma had had both of us in an art museum by herself. We actually listened very well and sat carefully outside the lines roping off the sculpture. And we were still warned by the security guards not to lean over them, which we hadn't been. Being an old pro, I rolled my eyes and then laughed as an adult walked right into the rope around the tea leaf exhibit and actually jacked it up a bit. Then I stopped laughing as I quickly realized it really wasn't funny (OK, we might have still been smirking. but we moved on).

We were both happy when we came to what we call the Hirshhorn's chill room -- a long couch along a long line of windows overlooking the Mall, which was overcast and soaked. We sat and told stories for a while and then headed all the way to the basement floor to see "Out of the Ordinary." It's a small exhibit of works in the Hirshhorn's collection that make art out of (shocker) ordinary items. There was a big tour group going through the exhibit and we had a hard time checking things out. But we really came to see one piece: Robert Gober's oversized stick of butter. In our house, a stick of real butter means one of two things: (1) mom is baking; or (2) we are getting butter noodles. Both of which we consider to be incredibly good news, so mom thought we'd get a kick out of the artwork. We did. But we didn't like the crowds, so we moved on.

Momma also wanted to show Kane the piece "Ser y Durar [To Be and To Last]" by Democracia, a Madrid-based artist collective. We've seen the work several times before, which is part of the Hirshhorn's Black Box moving-image art space and, while it's a little dark (in mood and subject matter, not just in that it is shown in a blackened room), momma thought Kane would like the work's local parkour street artists -- it's kind of right up his alley. And he did. He was sort of silently stunned by them. We both sat quietly until almost the end and then I started asking questions about the cemetery in which they were performing.

"Out of the Ordinary" is at the Hirshhorn until May 19th. I don't know that we'd make a special trip down there just to see that, but if you want to see the Weiwei exhibit before it leaves on February 24th, stop down in the basement to see that stick of butter. The Black Box is also located on the basement level and Democracia's piece is on exhibit until May 19th.

And, btw, we hit up the Halal Grill food truck on the way back for some seriously delish gyro over rice. It was still raining, so we had to metro it home with us. But it was still super yummy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Keep It Local: Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Winter

Woohoo! We made it outside of the house! Facing a day off of school yesterday, mom was determined to get us out and about. Inevitably packed museums? 28 degrees outside? No problem. We bundled up and headed out to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, which we apparently visit only during times of extreme temperatures -- it was about 105 on our last visit there in the summer. Oh how different it was today and just as amazing.

why, yes. that is my mitten I threw in with the stick. 
good thing there were plenty of other sticks around with which mom could retrieve it.

Pool upon pool of frozen wetland (and signs warning of no ice skating) waited for us today. And geese. Tons and tons of geese. And geese poop. Tons and tons of geese poop. The frozen water only slightly abated mom's (somewhat irrational) wetland fears (remember our trip to Huntley Meadows?) and we tested her comfort level and the frozen ponds by throwing a whole variety of things onto the ice. For about 40 minutes.

We had just decided to move on when two geese came screeching in for a slippery landing on some ice and fell right through (see, mom's not completely irrational). They were stuck. You could see them looking at each other like, "ummm... yeah, now what?" One eventually decided to take it for the team and began breaking through the ice while the other got to simply follow along swimming. It was pretty awesome.

We brought our new bug observers with us, but couldn't find any buggies. Instead I suggested that we "examine geese poop. 'cause there's lots of that." So we did. Don't worry -- no touching was involved. We found big poop, full of berries. Long, green poop. And we talked a lot about what examining animal poop could tell us. Cami said monkey poop might have bananas in it. And I said that meant they probably lived in banana trees. No monkeys, but we found some cool dried seed pods and we broke those apart. I saved the seeds inside my bug catcher to use as bait for catching bugs. Cami collected rocks -- you know, for bugs who eat rocks.

All throughout our walk we talked about what wildlife we could find in the winter. We found some frozen deer tracks. And Cami pretended to fish a lot, but I said I didn't think there was any big fish under the ice. BUT, as we were leaving, a blue heron swept down and pulled two fish right out of the water! The bird held them in its mouth, tails flip flopping and shining in the sun, before gulping them down right in front of us (OK - it was on the other side of a pond, but still). Mom was stunned, and she doesn't even like birds.

All in all, an excellent cold adventure out of the house and one that convinced mom that even if it's below freezing, we will be OUT!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Artworks: Mini Framed Permanent Marker and Watercolor Works

We've been spending a lot of time with our IKEA MALA watercolors this winter and mom has been on the lookout for new, interesting art projects for them. As part of daddy's Valentine's Day present from us, we decided to combine two different ideas we've seen (mini framed paintings and painted permanent marker drawings -- neither of which mom can now located online). Mom had purchased a mini magnetic chalkboard for dad's office, which had space for two 3X3 photos. Instead of giving daddy another set of our mugs, mom thought we could each make a little mini painting.

Mom masking taped down a small square of watercolor paper, creating a frame of white space on the paper. We then used a black permanent marker to create a drawing. We were antsy with this part -- we wanted at the paints. It took us a few tries (after which mom gave up on trying to tape down the paper -- she couldn't do it fast enough) and watching mom work on a few to get the idea. I tried to use different colors (always including green, of course) to paint in my drawing. Cam stuck with purple. Only purple. Well, eventually she looped in some green. But then painted over that with purple.

We also wanted mom to do some drawings for us to paint. She obliged, but stuck with our own drawings for daddy's present. The framed paintings came out really cool -- we have to think of a better way to do this so mom can keep up with our flow and get enough small paintings taped down first (maybe the floor?). Although mom didn't exactly measure them first, so you couldn't see the frames once we put them in the chalkboard. Go figure.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Holidaze: Valentine's Day Bath

Happy Valentine's Day! We kicked ours off early with a little surprise Valentine's themed bath last night -- we loved our tropical island tub so much a few weeks ago, mom couldn't resist setting up another. We knew she was up to something, but were still surprised to find pink, vanilla scented water surrounded by hearts, red streamers and all the pink/purple/red bath toys mom could round up. And Valentine's Day shaving cream tub paint complete with glitter (yes, there is STILL glitter in the tub). We played until we pruned.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grub It Up: Green Quiche

OK, so technically this is not named green quiche. It's a yummy dish mom found on (thanks to mom's friend for suggesting the site!) that is really a goat cheese, spinach and tomato quiche. BUT, in mom's new effort to get us to eat green vegetables, she's declared it green quiche and explained to us that it was the exact same yummy greenness that's in our green smoothies. Kane was still not convinced.

Enter mom's other new mealtime effort -- new rules: (1) sometimes you will be served the exact same thing as mom and dad (apparently mom realized she had turned into a short order cook and was not happy about it); (2) you will keep any negative comments to yourself; and (3) you will eat at least two bites of it. Ouch. Kane has tested them and they have held up, so I know she means business. I ate almost all of mine and Kane ate 2.2 bites. That's 2.2 more than he'd normally eat, so we took it. My willingness to try it can mostly likely be linked to my love of taunting Kane, love of green smoothies (see also love of taunting), and obsession with goat cheese (I will pretty much eat anything with goat cheese in it). It was DELISH.

Mom served ours up with turkey bacon (Kane is obsessed with turkey bacon and mom thought that might ease the idea of eating spinach), strawberries, and mini blueberry muffins. Dad and mom had a salad of mixed greens, strawberries, avocado and red onion with a low-fat balsamic vinaigrette (we don't make friends with salad yet -- baby steps).

And if your kids won't eat it for dinner, you might suggest that they'll just see it again for breakfast -- as Kane did this morning. Momma don't play.

Green Quiche (text slightly modified from's goat cheese, spinach and tomato quiche):

- 1 large Russet potato, sliced into very thin rounds
- 8 large eggs
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 Roma tomato, sliced
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, tightly packed
- 3 oz goat cheese

Preheat your oven to 375.

Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray. Layer the potato rounds on the bottom and sides of the pan in a single layer. With the remaining potato rounds, cover any holes in the potato layer. Bake the potatoes in the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Add in the seasonings and whisk until well combined. When the potatoes are done, layer the spinach on top of the potatoes and the goat cheese on top of the spinach in small chuncks. Gently pour the egg mixture over the top. Layer the tomatoes on top of the egg mixture. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes.

If desired, broil the quiche for 1-2 minutes to brown the top slightly (mom skipped this because we freak out at the sight of browned cheese for some reason). Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Yields 8 slices.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Miscellaneous Madness: Rainbow Scavenger Hunt

Mom is on the hunt for easy activities that get us out and about for some fresh air. We've been spending way too much time indoors this winter. You might recall how well our neighborhood nature I-Spy game went last spring (not). Mom thought we'd take a slightly different tack and go out hunting for colors, figuring there would at least be plenty of rainbow-colored trash in the 'hood.

Her intent was to get our help in painting old egg carton cups with different colors to use in our rainbow scavenger hunt, but we were not interested in painting that day. So mom ended up doing it herself and she also made a "Green Family Golden Coin" that the winner would get, entitling them to first pick of a show during t.v. time (a highly-coveted choice in our house and, since we just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which we all thought was HYSterical, she knew we'd appreciate a prize akin to the golden ticket. btw, perhaps the best thing to come out of reading that book, according to mom, is her ability to explain what will happen to children for various misbehavior -- even Cami now routinely warns "you're being Veruca Salt. you are being bratty and want everything."). Scavenger hunt day arrived and brought more bad weather -- awesome!

"Agggghhhh," mom screamed, "I thought today was going to be the day we'd get outside!" She came up with new rules. She would stand in the kitchen with a glass of wine and we'd search throughout the house for small items matching each color, put them in our egg cartons, and report back. Mom cheered up considerably.

We did a few practice examples with some of my legos and then I was off -- intent on winning that golden coin. Cam needed a little more help, but not much (plus, we bent the rules a bit to allow her items that technically did not fit inside of the carton, but were the correct color). I did it so fast that mom came up with a "best out of three" requirement to win that flippin' coin. But I did it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Holidaze: Chinese New Year Pet Snakes

Our plan was to hit up the Chinese New Year parade this year. Then daddy dropped a little bomb -- he had a "work meeting" at a basketball game on Sunday. Uh huh. Mom was going to make a run at taking us both herself.  That is, she'd take us after a totally necessary Starbucks stop, of course. We planned to scoot to the 'bucks, caffeinate mom adequately, give the scooters to dad to take back home and hop on the train to Chinatown. 

As we were leaving the house, daddy said he had to be back in an hour. Mom looked at him like he was nuts and said "we only live 1 1/2 blocks from there. I think we'll be OK." 45 minutes later we had made it to the end of our street. I'd finally had my scooter privileges revoked. Cami had thrown no less than 22 tantrums (her leg was sore, she needed to stretch. she couldn't scoot fast enough over the cracks in the sidewalk. her hands were cold. she couldn't scoot in mittens. on and on -- you get my drift). Poor Vegas was getting pissed that his dreams of getting walked farther than the end of the street were dashed. Mom announced there was no way she was taking the two of us yahoos downtown in the freezing cold to wait for an hour for a parade. 

SO, back home we went for yet another art project. Our pet Chinese dragons have been a big hit at our house this past week - I change the name of mine almost daily, but Cam's has stayed "Mini Mouse" from the beginning. We decided to make some pet snakes in honor of this year's Chinese New Year animal. Nothing too complicated. Mom cut some snake shapes out of cardboard and we painted them with sponges and old toothbrushes to achieve a scaly look. Googly eyes and a serpent tongue and we were done. And, as with our dragons, we insisted on making a "house" for them -- this time we camouflaged it to help out our new buddies. 

Next year, parade. Next year.

At least we celebrated with a Chinese food dinner AND finally got our fortune cookies. Our fortunes were right on -- I'm in constant search of buddies willing to flow with my style of play and Cami, well, her new nickname is "Pinky Pie" after the always-ready-to-party My Little Pony. Girl loves to have a good time. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Weird Science: DIY Lava Lamps

We straight up stole this idea from a buddy of ours who had a rad science birthday party recently. It's simple with supercool results. And a good experiment in density, too. You don't need the light, but we liked to try and make it as close to a real lava lamp as we could (although the lights we used float, so it wasn't exactly the same).

Here's what you'll need:
*a tall bottle (a plastic water bottle works great);
*cooking oil (enough to fill up 3/4 of the bottle);
*food coloring;
*alka-seltzer tablets; and
*small submersible lights (we used these fairy lights -- you could also hold a flashlight under the bottom of the bottle)

Fill up the bottle 3/4 of the way with cooking oil. Fill the remainder with water, but not quite all the way to the top (you'll need some room for bubbling action). Add a few drops of food coloring (if you use gel food coloring, color the water first -- we made that mistake the first time around). Break up the alka seltzer tablet and drop it in a bit at a time. As the alka seltzer releases small bubbles of carbon dioxide, the bubbles rise up and take some of the colored water with them. If you are using a light, go ahead and add it now.

We waited until the bubbles stopped, put the tops back on (make sure to keep the top off until the bubbles are done or you'll get a nice little explosion), and took them into our cardboard box "tree house" we made that afternoon. With all the lights off, they were great lamps to light the market we were running in there.

OH, you might have noticed we are in the process of coming up with a new topic organization scheme -- our "In Home Entertainment" category is getting a little heavy! We'll get it together ASAP.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

In Home Entertainment: Collage on Cardboard

One of the projects we spent the most time on during our NYC children's art museum trip was collaging on cardboard. The cardboard provides a nice sturdy surface to hold all the collage bits and helps reuse the always incoming cardboard boxes and at our house. I'm big into cutting with scissors and I spend lots of time cutting paper into various shapes, which I like to fold, crumple and collect. And collaging also helps reuse all that paper. In addition to the items we recycle, our most favorite collaging materials are buttons, large gems, and pipe cleaners. On our most recent round, we added in our suminagashi'd hearts and some valentine hearts I've been cutting out by the dozen (mom's favorite is the one on which I requested she write, "Female Love.")

You can use anything you've got to whip up a fun collage session, but we've included below links to our favorite supplies. In case you forgot, we're Discount School Supply affiliates and the links below to DSS are affiliate links. If you click on any of these links (or the general DSS link on the right hand side of our blog) and make a purchase, we will receive a small percentage of the sale from DSS. So do us a solid and help support our arts and crafts habit -- if you are going to purchase something from DSS, do it through Not-So-SAHM!

Assorted Grandma's Buttons Assorted Grandma's Buttons
Huge colorful assortment of buttons range in size from 1/4 to 1 1/4Dia. Choose 1 lb. or 3 lbs. of buttons- 1 lb. set includes a convenient storage tub or buy the 3 lb. bag for extra savings! About 1000 buttons per lb.

Jumbo Foam Shapes - 150 Pieces Jumbo Foam Shapes - 150 Pieces
Make cityscapes and jumbo-sized collages with these colorful geometric foam shapes. Kids will have fun using them for color and shape identification. 12 different shapes 2 to 5-1/2.

Giant Glittering Rhinestones - 1 lb. Giant Glittering Rhinestones - 1 lb.
Add some glamour to your arts and crafts projects!

Striped Pipe Cleaners - Package of 200 Striped Pipe Cleaners - Package of 200
Yikes stripes! These brightly-striped pipe cleaners come in 5 color combinations for amusing imaginative creations.