Friday, February 28, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: Q&A A Day for Kids (December 2013 + January 2014)

With all the holiday and winter madness, we got a little behind on our questions -- both in answering and reporting. BUT we are nearly caught up. Here's the top Q+A from December and January -- a few extras, because we were extra funny. You can't make this stuff up. Seriously.

December 2013

December 1
Q: Who inspires you? Why?

A: Kane -- a work of a good artist because ... VanGogh doesn't really inspire me. Monet does. Wait -- is Monet even an artist? Cameron -- spiders.

December 7
Q: If you were invisible today, what would you do?

A: Cameron -- I'd be like "squeak, squeak." Kane -- I would scare people by moving things around without anybody seeing.

December 10
Q: Pick a parent. How do you know that parent cares about you? 

A: Kane -- mommy. I can look inside your heart. I have magic eyes. When you care about me like when I get hurt. Cameron -- daddy. He hugs me. I look into his heart.

December 15
Q: What do you daydream about?

A: Cameron -- umm ... all the whole town, world, my family. Kane -- you know I daydream when I'm  jumping, but I won't answer the question. You can't tell a dream or it won't come true.

December 16
Q: ______ is boring to me because _______. 

A: Kane -- no movement -- because like a robbery is not boring. Boring is when you don't have anything to do. If you pretend you're doing a robbery {that's not boring}.  Cameron -- spending time with all the family -- because it's beautiful. 

January 2014

January 6
Q: If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A: Kane -- to medieval times -- that's a place, it's not just your own house. You don't have to turn back the clock. And then China to see samurai. England to see the Beefeaters. Where do they have war going on? Egypt? I want to go there. Cameron -- to Nona's house.

January 7
Q: What would you like to do but can't do yet?

A: Cameron -- well, when Kaney tells me something, I can't do it because I'm working on something. When I'm done, then I can do it. Kane -- I want to buy a whole castle, but I don't have enough money. I'll marry a queen, get a whole army of knights, rule the world. 

January 11
Q: Has anyone ever called you a name? Tell about it.

A: Cameron -- yes -- "sheesha." {my friend} called me it. It means you laugh. It means love. Kane -- "I love you" -- you called me it. You say that all the time. It makes me feel good. Now, the question I'm going to ask you is "can I have a joe-joe?" {cookie}

January 19

Q: How do you feel about babysitters?

A: Kane -- annoyed. I just don't like when my mommy + daddy go away. Actually, I said "Illinois," because I don't want to say a bad word. Cameron -- happy. Because I love babysitters and I love you every day.

January 21

Q: Do you believe in aliens? Explain.

A: Kane -- yes - I've seen one before. It crashed on school -- don't ask my teachers. I'm just making up a theory. Cameron -- no, because they're mean. And have sharp claws. Kane -- and they take human heads off and replace them with alien heads. Cameron -- and eat you for dinner. 

January 22

Q: What makes you feel special?

A: Cameron -- ummm... making me shine like a diamond. like a star, like a diamond. {ftr, quoting Rihanna} Kane -- that I'm the greatest architect ever because I make up creative stuff, castles, secret doors, a falling trap.

January 23

Q: Did anyone bug you today? If so, how?

A: Kane -- {points at Cami} -- she kept interrupting me with my castles and I knocked several parts down. Cameron -- {points at Kane} -- because he smacked me in the face {laughing}. Kane -- no I didn't -- she's lying - take her to council jail! Cameron -- guards, get him! {proceed with rock, paper, scissors}.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Keep It Local: Kennedy Center's Performances for Young Audiences: "Orphie and the Book of Heroes"

we are on about our 5th iteration of The Odyssey -- this one is Mary Pope Osborne's version
we brought it with us in case we needed some reading during downtime

The only negative thing we can say about the Kennedy Center's "Orphie and the Book of Heroes" is that we are numskulls for not going earlier and being able to share our review in enough time for you to go. It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Amazing. Seriously.

Now, obviously Cam and I are both huge Greek mythology buffs, but we cannot fathom how someone could not like this performance. There was music, singing, dancing, jokes, a kick-a$% female hero, sequins. From the Sirens in drag to Hermes on rollerskates, we were hooked.

"Orphie and the Book of Heroes" tells the tale of a young girl in Ancient Greece who sets out to save storyteller Homer and his Book of Heroes, which quest takes her from Mt. Olympus to the depths of the underworld. There was a perfect balance between ancient and modern, which we learned was called anachronism, and a good dose of humor. It was really simply fabulous.

Moreover, mom was incredibly impressed with the Kennedy Center's ArtsEdge performance guide handed out at the show. It went far beyond setting up the performance and story to really teaching about storytelling and theater and giving us things to focus on during the performance (e.g., keeping an ear open for what the lyrics and different musical styles told us about the characters and story).

It seems as though the shows are recommended for a slightly older set of kids, this one suggested 9+, but, and it might just be that we were already so interested in the subject matter, mom thinks kids much younger than that could still appreciate and enjoy the performances (as long as they behave and cooperate, you know). Plus, at least one show was sensory friendly, which might be a good fit for some kids. Keep your eye on the Young Audience performances coming up -- Robin Hood is coming in March and there's a good chance we'll be there. With tickets at only $20, which is just slightly more than other kid's performances in the area that aren't nearly as good, you can't beat it.

not to get sappy, but mom says this is how she feels constantly these days -- 
trying to catch up with me on the run

we have a relationship of extremes right now -- LOVE or the opposite of that

parkour, Kennedy Center style

Monday, February 24, 2014

Grub It Up: Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Blackcurrent Dipping Sauce and Ombre Citrus Carrots

We have no idea what's going on in the universe, but our social calendar has been cray-cray this week. We've been meeting up and dining out on a ridiculous schedule that has made it very clear we could never keep up with the Kardashians. BUT mom did sneak in one homemade meal that was so ridiculously good, we didn't have any leftovers (fortunately, our dining out schedule ensured we didn't need them). Everyone ate everything on their plates -- dipping sauce and veggies included, which basically never happens. It might have had something to do with the fact that, altogether, the meal made a rainbow on our plate. Or that we accompanied mom to the grocery store and made her buy two bunches of expensive carrots. Mom would like to think it had something to do with her hand peeling all those pistachios. Either way, it was delish.

Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Blackcurrent Dipping Sauce 
(slightly adapted from South Beach Primal)

For the Chicken
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch strips 
- 1 cup pistachios, peeled
- 1/2 cup ground almond flour 
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt, to taste
- 1 egg

For the Dipping Sauce:
- 3 tbsp unsweetened black currant jam
- 3 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1 tbsp raw honey

- Preheat the oven to 500 F degrees. Grease 2 baking sheets with coconut oil and set aside. 

- Blend the pistachios using a food processor until you have a crumb consistency. Add the almond flour, parsley, garlic powder and salt. Pulse until incorporated. Dump the breading onto a flat plate.

- In a small, shallow bowl, beat the egg well. Dip strips of chicken first in the egg and then coat with the pistachio breading. Place coated chicken strips onto baking sheets. 

- Place trays in the oven, bringing the temperature back down to 375 F. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until fully cooked. 

- In a small bowl, mix together the black currant mustard sauce ingredients. Serve on the side of the chicken tenders. 

Ombre Citrus Carrots

- 4-6 colorful carrots, I used 2 large red, 2 large orange, and 2 yellow 
- 3 tbsp melted butter or olive oil
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- zest from 1 orange
- 2 - 3 springs fresh thyme
- kosher salt to taste

- Preheat the oven to 450 F with an oven rack in the center position. Lightly brush the bottom of a medium baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter/olive oil and set aside. 
- Wash and peel the carrots then slice thinly -- about 1/4 inch thick. Line the sliced carrots in the baking dish in whatever pattern you'd like. 
- Mix the orange juice with the remaining butter and drizzle over the top of the arranged carrots. Sprinkle coarse salt to taste over the top of the dish along with the orange zest and thyme leaves. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of your carrot slices. 
- Serve warm.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Not-So-SAHM Top 10 Toys + Games Under $20

We don't normally review or recommend commercial items -- we love a good DIY project. But the weather (or, more accurately, the threatened weather) this winter has forced us inside a lot while mom actually needs to get some things done. So we've found ourselves investing in a bunch of nice, but not overly expensive, items that will hold our interest for a good amount of time. And that are often small enough to travel with us for dining out, which we've also been doing a fair bit -- it's often one of the ways we get out of the house even in inclement weather!

No one is paying us to do so, but we thought it would be helpful to share our top 10 favorites under $20. We know so many of you are in the same situation! (And if you're not, don't tell us). So here they are. Stay sane without breaking the bank. Enjoy!

1. Pentominoes and Pattern Cards -- pentominoes are a set of 12 shapes that can be combined in various puzzles and patterns. Mom originally bought us this set and some pattern cards after we became obsessed with the "Wright 3" series. While touring the Robie House in Chicago, we also each picked up a 3D set, which we also love. If your kiddo likes puzzles and math, this is a perfect somewhat portable game.

2. Pantone Color Cards -- for those interested in art and design, these cards are a great way to introduce color and design to your kiddos while playing a super fun hide and seek game. Mom bought ours at the Building Museum. They are oversized, but sturdy and we've still traveled with them.

3. Modern Artists Go Fish for Art -- we picked these up on one of our visits to the Hirshhorn and LOVE them. It's a small set of cards that can be used in games of varying levels of difficulty, up to full on go fish. We particularly like trying to find pairs of similar things (subjects, color, feeling, etc.) and the game includes a booklet with information about each artist as well.

4. Story Cubes -- Grammie B gave these to us last year and they are well loved. You'd be surprised at how even the younger set picks up on the idea quickly and we love to come up with super funny, elaborate stories at the dinner table. We've got the basic set, but there are a few different variations.

5. Wonderboard Play With Shapes Magnet Set -- Mom couldn't find a great online pic to do it justice, but this was another purchase from the Hirshhorn and Kane is obsessed. He even likes to play with it while he watches his "shows" and build things that go along with what he's watching. Cam likes the bright colors, too. The double-sided board is still compact enough to bring with us -- although we have to be careful not to lose the magnetic pieces.

6. Eric Carle Lacing Cards -- Cam picked these out, but we all love them. Kane follows the pattern and Cami insists she "can do whatever she wants." Whatever. They've been the focus of a lot of our time and forces Cami to use her pincher fingers, which she doesn't really like to do when gripping a pencil, so mom doesn't really care.

7. Melissa + Doug Puffy Sticker Sets -- these sets are a slightly more temporary version of the Melissa + Doug magnetic dress-up sets and much smaller, which is great for bringing them on the go. They do actually last a while if you are careful enough to keep the stickers on the scene. Cam obviously favors the mermaid one. Kane likes the pirates. And mom thinks the chipmunks are adorable.

8. No Stress Chess -- we started playing this last summer and both of us have really progressed. We can even play a game against each other. Well, at least for a few minutes before we start bickering over pieces. An uncomplicated version of the game, players learn the basics by moving whatever piece is on the card they draw. The cards visually describe how the piece can be moved, so those who can't yet read can still learn easily.

9. About Face Card Game -- this game is so addicting. You rearrange four tiles of found object photographs into a seemingly endless arrangement of faces. Super silly and creative.

10. Bath + Beauty Products -- what can we say? Cam is a girly girl and mom tries to roll with it. She spends a lot of time playing in the bathtub with various bubbly concoctions and begging mom to let her wear makeup (which mom doesn't let her do outside of the house). Her favorites include: fizzy colored bath tablets, glitter lip gloss, and a sparkly powder pouf.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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

Mom spent this month's Day in the Life like so many other days recently -- trying to jam 8,000 necessary activities, errands and tasks in while simultaneously cursing and preparing for another impending snowstorm (at least we really got snow this time) accompanied by canceled school.

Don't forget to see how No Monsters in My Bed and Where the Watermelons Grow spent their Wednesday!

6.15 am -- mom gets up early for her sort-of long run at 5.45 to find both of us wide awake. it took her a while to convince us to get back in bed so she could get out the door and ponder our 6th sense of anticipating her alone time and how we can interrupt that.

9.35 am -- mom reviews her target red wine scores and debates the need to get more for the upcoming 5-day weekend.

10.15 am -- we're having a playdate today (that was rescheduled from last week's "snow day") and mom cleans up Kane's room. Kane has been spending hours, HOURS, building with blocks in his room and hates when mom makes him clean up his elaborate structures. he negotiated to let this one stand.

12 pm -- mom swings by Suzanne's house to pick up party supplies for a little DIY party craft. those two NEED a studio!

1.30 pm -- mom works on a yummy looking cocktail post for A Feteful Life.

2 pm -- gassing up the car in plummeting temperatures, mom rethinks her choice of footwear.

4.30 pm -- after our playdate, mom scurries outside to salt the porch. Cam plays princess mermaid.

5.15 pm -- good friends of mom + daddy are moving soon and mom stamps cocktail napkins for the going away party they threw them.

6.20 pm -- mom squeezes in time to work on another blog post (cocktail related again. hm, we're seeing a theme develop this winter. promise, mom partakes in plenty of non-booze related activities. really).

7 -- a late din of paleo-friendly pizza! not. but it's Pete's A Pizza and it's delicious.

8 pm -- mom takes our snow predictions for the upcoming storm. we're about as accurate as local weathercasters.

10.15 -- before heading to bed, mom gets in one final AFL instagram for the day -- a shot of some of the hearts they made at WestElm's St. Jude charity event.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Keep It Local: Presidents' Family Day at the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum

Happy Presidents' Day! We know we just posted on the National Portrait Gallery, but they've just been having so much great programming lately, we had to go again! And we know we chose well because we ran into several different friends there, including the No Monsters in My Bed crew. It was obviously a hot spot. We spent a good chunk of this past Saturday enjoying Presidents' Family Day at the NPG and the American Art Museum. In fact, there were so many fabulous activities set up in the courtyard, we didn't even make it out to the galleries this time! Well, Cam and daddy did. But I was ALL OVER the art activities. I met GW again (I swear he was slightly shorter this time) and my second favorite president (Mr. Lincoln), made a top hat, built with Lincoln Logs, designed my own presidential china, colored presidential pop art (a truly awesome art project that we're planning to try at home too), and watched the Nats Racing Presidents boogey down. I give it two thumbs up for a great presidential celebration (and you know how I feel about presidents).

that's a lot of stripes, blondeness and rain boots (Cam changed into her dressy flats upon arrival, obvi).

my top hat.

my presidential china pattern.

now that's a presidential pose.

such a cool pop art project. mom wanted to stay there all day.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Artworks: Easy Glitter Bunting

Happy Valentine's! We're are SO excited that our little three-day weekend turned into a five-day break thanks to a lovely little winter storm. We think mom is SUPER happy too. In any event, yesterday, mom was showing us photos of the hearts A Feteful Life made at WestElm's St. Jude charity event this week (WestElm is trying to make the longest heart garland ever and for every heart made, they'll donate $1) and we got to thinking. First we wanted to make our own heart garland. So mom got out a bunch of Valentine's supplies. Then we decided we wanted to decorate just doilies. No problem.

We stuck to our watercolors and loose glitter. We were a little heavy handed on the glue, so mom left them out to dry overnight and strung them up on some baker's twine this morning. They are glinting and glittering in the winter sun! Mom thought it was such a super easy decoration to make because the doilies already have holes in them -- stringing them up took no time at all.

The bunting is up now for Valentine's Day, but we think it would look wonderful for any celebration. Glitter for all!!!

Here's what you need:
- a pack of doilies
- watercolors
- white school glue
- loose glitter
- baker's twine

Just paint your doilies whatever color you'd like. Let them dry just a bit and make a design with glue. Sprinkle glitter liberally. Once they are dry, run the baker's twine through the existing holes on the doilies to make your bunting. Revel in the glitter that will be all over you and your house.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fly Away: Christmas in Chicago

How is it the middle of February?! Mom's been trying to get through the photos from Christmas and New Years and finally realized that she just needed to stop trying to organize them and get them up before spring. This year, we spent Christmas in Chicago at our cousins' new home in Lincoln Park. We got to see ALL our cousins from mom's side of the family, Grammie and Grandpa B, and most of our aunts and uncles. It was FREEZING, but so, so, so much fun. We cannot wait to go back!

We spent our first day downtown with Grammie and Grandpa B checking out the German Christkindlemarket and the Christmas windows at Macy's. It was chilly and crowded, but was nice to get out and about.

As you might have heard, one of my most favorite books (we listened to all the audio books in the series, actually) is Blue Balliet's "Wright 3," in which three school-aged children solve a mystery involving Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House in Chicago. Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio is actually in mom's home suburb, Oak Park, and she has a small obsession with him, too. So as my Christmas present this year, Grammie and Grandpa B took us on a tour of all the best Hyde Park spots from the book! We went by Powell's bookstore, took a tour of the Robie House!, and had lunch at The Medici Cafe. It was AWESOME.

The Robie House actually runs a special "Wright 3" tour for kids, but it is on Saturdays only and couldn't swing it. The regular tour was pretty awesome though, especially when the guide learned we were "Wright 3" fans -- she made sure to point out some of the features from book. I'm kind of obsessed with pentominoes (a math puzzle used in the book) and architecture, so I insisted on getting a second set from the bookstore there. Cam did the same.

We spent a lot of time just hanging with our cousins, which made us so happy, but sad that they live so far away :(

Christmas Eve dinner was from Eataly Chicago -- everyone loved the delicious food and lack of preparation that I think it might be a new tradition. Cam and Jack helped Grammie B with her famous Lemon Bee cake -- so there was some homemade, of course. See that outrageously cute baby belly? That's our new cousin Alex -- he was born about 2 weeks later and is even cuter than he was in Aunt Carrie's tummy! (see below)

Our Aunt Allie, aka Ms. Frizzle, put together a super awesome treasure hunt for us to do after dinner. See -- it runs in the family.

Christmas day we went bowling (of course) with our immediate family and then, well, hung out some more and tried to stay warm.

Cousin love at breakfast. 

We also made our first visit to a bounce house, which was a huge success all around and gave everyone some much needed exercise.

And mom made it back this past weekend to visit a month-old baby Alex. Certifiably the cutest baby ever.