Friday, January 29, 2016

The Friday Five!

Well, unless you've been completely oblivious (which I get, it happens to the best of us), you probably noticed we got totally walloped this past week with a killer winter storm. I'd say we fared pretty well. Living in a neighborhood where the kids could just go outside by themselves and meet up with kids on the block for sledding, epic snowball fights, and just general snow revelry was a HUGE difference from living in our condo. I basically didn't even go outside for the first several days (I was sick and we weren't going anywhere anyways). We also had the good fortune of living along a snow emergency route, so we were almost immediately plowed out and able to get out and about. We did do A LOT of crafting and reading and cooking, so it was hard to narrow things down for this week's Friday Five. But, here you have it!

Cooking -- everyone groaned when I announced this Swirly Crustless Quiche was for dinner, but then scarfed down several pieces each. The kids seriously didn't even notice how many veggies were in there. The rosemary gives it an almost sweet taste. And it couldn't be easier to make. We had it with a side of chicken sausage and grilled fruit. This will be a new once-a-monther.

Reading -- we spent a lot of snowed-in time reading. We're almost finished with the monstrous Magnus Chase book and we've simultaneously moved on to a monstrous audiobook Queste. It's the fourth in a series and I'm finding it hard to follow since we didn't read the first books, but the kids insist on forging ahead. I wrapped up Pretty Ugly quickly and was totally depressed by it. I get that it's satirical, but I honestly found the commentary on marriage, society, parenting, etc. too depressing to be funny. I followed that up with The Shore, which was also not an uplifting read. It focuses on several generations of different families on a group of small islands off the Chesapeake Bay (near where we've visited in past summers). Lots of heavy subjects and a lot of characters and jumping around, but I really enjoyed the writing. I'm finishing up The Jezebel Remedy now and while the story is a bit far fetched, I get a kick out of the married couple who run their own law practice.

Playing -- I broke out some new Brain Quest cards when we shoveled our way out to a good dinner last Sunday. And the kids keep requesting them. We've tried several iterations of them, but they both really enjoy this reading set. Awesome skills building.

Making -- did you catch our DIY Scratch Art post? It was definitely a favorite art project of Cam's!

Wanting -- adult coloring books intrigue me and this seems like the perfect one to start with after last week's storm. Although Unicorns are Jerks and the Swear Word coloring books are also at the top of my list.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Project 52 -- Week 4

After 2 days of stormy winter skies and 36 hours of straight snow, the sun came out and it was GLORIOUS. Light. Snowball fights commenced.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DIY Valentines -- Sweet Without The Sugar!

If you follow us on Instagram, you might have noticed that we've started arting hearts in serious earnest. We can't help it. We LOVE Valentine's Day. Kane and Cam actually spent a snowed-in morning this past weekend getting a jumpstart on sweet valentines for each other. Head on over to Paper Source's blog to get the goods! 

P.S. We're also happy to share that we'll be regular guest blogging for Paper Source so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new posts -- we've got a bunch of great projects lined up! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

DIY Scratch Art

The kids have been totally obsessed with scratch art lately. But a few days into being homebound by Jonas, they'd scratched their way through all 50 postcards in our stash. So we decided to make our own. I've seen several different tutorials, but we used what we had on hand (fortunately for our snowed-in selves, we always have a lot of arts and craft materials on hand!).

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Friday Five!

We are waking up to a forecast of 2 feet (yes, FEET) of snow and a day of school already canceled. Provided everyone stays safe, I'm actually looking forward to being snowed in. We've all been nursing a bug and I love the thought of not having to go anywhere for several days. But, check back with me by the end of the weekend .... In the meantime, here's what's what this week.

Reading -- The kids are reading The Secrets of Droon series, which, honestly, I find pretty bland for beginning chapter books. But they like them, which I guess is what matters. I just started Pretty Ugly and am looking forward to getting some good reading time in over the upcoming blizzard.

Cooking -- Thank goodness there is a good range of Paleo comfort food out there. It's all we want when it gets cold out! This super spicy meatloaf is one of my new favorites. It was too spicy for the kids, which meant Joel and I were left with 12 mini-muffins of meatloaf for ourselves (I like to cook meatloaf in muffin tins because it cooks faster and the kids are more likely to eat it). No problems there. I'll be making and freezing a double batch next time!

Playing -- We've been doing lots of puzzles and math games this week, but the kids have also come up with some nonsensical game involving dancing, spinning and light sabers. And they've been doing that NONSTOP. It always ends in tears. But they persist. Getting snowed in this weekend should be reaaaaal interesting.

Wanting -- I'm overdue for a new pair of running shoes. I'm a devoted Brooks fan, but I tend to hop around among their styles whenever they come out with a new generation of a particular pair. I've been running in the Transcends and hate them. I'm headed back to the Adrenaline GTS! Striped, obvi.

Making -- We heart Valentine's Day in our house and we've been painting heart after heart after seeing ArtBar's post.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016 Project 52 -- Week 3

Facebook has been killing me with the nostalgic suggestion posts this week. Fuzzy iPhone photos of the kids as babies and toddlers greet me daily. It wasn't that long ago, but I can barely remember it.

This past weekend we took a trip over to one of my favorite art museum duos -- the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum -- and ended up, as we always do, with the kids wanting to run the Kogod Courtyard water features. This week's theme of Simplicity struck me as I watched Cam flitter around the water and I thought of our very first post on the courtyard. Sure, the kids are much more into the actual art now that they are a bit older. But Cam is just as happy today as her 2-year-old self was then to simply grab a grilled cheese and play in the water.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DIY Secret Spy Math Game!

As you might have noticed, when Kane isn't interested in something, he has a tendency to whip right though it. So I often find myself looking for ways to get him to focus on certain subjects, including math. He actually is quite good at math, when he'll pay attention long enough to do it. But he never has any problem sitting for hours designing and building. So I decided to combine his block obsession with de-coding (another one of his faves) into a fun "secret spy" math game -- it was a hit! Head over to The Land of Nod's blog to check it out and download free printables so you can make your own!

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Cultured Science Experiment: Grow Your Own Bacteria

My parents bought the kids an awesome microscope for Christmas and they lucked out by getting a superb demonstration from both of their scientist grandparents last weekend. As we were reading through the accompanying book and talking about viewing different organisms, I remembered that the kids and I spent an afternoon last year culturing bacteria and I completely forgot to share the experiment!

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Friday Five!

I can't believe it's Friday! I feel like I was just writing out my week's to-do lists. Yes, multiple lists. I'm on mission to go back through every room, closet, and cupboard in the house and clean. it. out. No one seems to be as excited about this as me. Much to the kids' dismay, I spent the bulk of my "free time" this week wading through their rooms. Pulling out clothes, toys, and books they no longer use, and packing them up to save or boxing up for donation. They at least seem on board with my idea that nothing new from the holidays can stay unless an equal amount of things go out. So I'm taking advantage of the opportunity! Here's what else we've been up to this week ....

Cooking -- The whole fam has been loving this Mediterranean Chicken Skillet. It's an incredibly quick weeknight meal and I find that the kids don't even fuss about all the veggies.

Reading -- We're still working out way through our respective chapter books, but I'm on the constant hunt for new recipes and loving Jamie Oliver's Everyday Superfood. I have to adapt the recipes a bit for paleo, but there's still plenty of good finds. The kids picked out all new audiobooks at the library and wanted to start with this Sherlock Files book. But after several sleepless nights, children in our bed, and plenty of of nightmares, I put the kibosh on that one. We're on to a much milder story about a Night Fairy.

Making -- I've obviously been cooking a lot lately and Cam has been sitting at the kitchen counter cooking up her own doodles. I am so in love with Herve Tullet's Doodle Book -- it has the best creative prompts and almost every exercise ends in such beautiful art.

Wanting -- I've been obsessed with Hedley and Bennett aprons for quite awhile, but they kept coming up with new and fabulous collaborations, I couldn't decide! I think this one inspired by Clare Vivier is finally it.

Playing -- We've had the Timeline game for a while, but the kids have really been getting into it lately. It's a really clever way to help everyone chronologically organize historical events, but the fact that it doesn't have any descriptive information about them (and some are really random) drives me nuts. Oh well, we just google a lot.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 Project 52 -- Week 2

There were many different opportunities to photograph something fitting with the theme of "cold" this week. We experienced an overnight temperature drop of 30+ degrees. We broke out our hats and mittens. We pumped the fireplace. But I love this photo of Kane from his very first wrestling match this past weekend. Cold waiting to wrestle in his new singlet. Wrestling cold without experience. Cold competition.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

Our visit to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America had nothing to do with getting religious (so, breathe easy). It really had to do with checking off another site from Thrillist's (via the Prince of Petworth) "Secrets of DC" post a few years back. We've been to many of the 13 places (see below!) on Dan Silverman's list, but the Franciscan Monastery has been at the top of my list for a while. We intended to go last summer, but after our trip to Italy, the kids had had their fill of basilicas for a while. But when this weekend promised a 60-degree sunny day, I knew we had to go check it out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Maps Activity Book!

We're over at Honest to Nod today sharing our morning spent navigating the fabulous Maps Activity Book. It's such a fun and interactive way to get kids into geography. Go check it out!

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Friday Five!

Reading -- We finally finished our last batch of audiobooks from the library and went back to listen to one of our favorite Seven Wonders audiobooks (our favorites from the last library haul were The Wonder of Charlie Ann and Museum of Thieves). I've also moved on to the latest Lisbeth Salander novel -- The Girl in the Spider's Web.

Playing -- Kane received the LEGO Architecture Studio for Christmas and has been building all kinds of amazing structures. I love the book that comes with it -- there are no directions to build, but there is chapter after chapter of teaching and inspiration about architecture and architects. It's a hefty price tag, but totally worth it.

Cooking -- Our family loves chili -- I can put so many veggies in there and the kids still eat it. I heard about Chili for a Crowd from my friend's blog, Em-i-lis, and I immediately jumped at the chance to make the warm meal promising 20 servings. Chili freezes fantastically, so I knew I could get a bunch of meals out of one cooking. I adapted it a bit for paleo (left out red wine and beans, added in additional veggies) and it was a family win! (this photo is actually for another chili recipe (credit to Jennifer May) -- there wasn't one for the Chili for a Crowd recipe).

Making -- As you might have seen in my first Project 52 post yesterday, the kids are OBSESSED with fuse beads right now. Fortunately, Santa stocked up at OTC.

Wanting -- I was convincing myself that I didn't need my 56th black and white striped top (but this one is different! It's structured and has zippers!) when I came across this pair of leopard flats. I'd actually spotted these on someone earlier in the week and was ecstatic to find them so randomly online. Plus, they are clearly so practical for winter.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 Project 52 -- Week 1

This week's theme is Beginnings. Over winter break, these two began about 9,156 different fuse bead projects. And then left them about the house, to scatter about whenever anyone gave them the slightest bump. This week they broke out the glow in the dark beads Santa brought and started yet another.

We are so excited to have several other people joining us in Project 52 this year. You can find the year full of themes right here -- let me know if you want to join us too!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Slow Cooked Maple Dijon Pot Roast + 30 Days of Dinner

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm only a few days into a winter Whole30 and I actually couldn't be more ecstatic to be off all the holiday junk (read: ready to lose my mind if you try to take my cashews). We had such fun fall and holiday seasons full of entertaining and celebrating, but we are ready to clean. it. up.

The majority of these 30 Days of Dinner are me just trying to hold it together in between bouts of celebration. But if you are looking to say bye bye to some of the bad stuff (even though it tastes sooooo good), things should be pretty clean around these parts for the near future. This Slow Cooked Maple Dijon Pot Roast is definitely a family favorite and I'm all about the slow cooker these days. So little hands-on cooking time and cleanup for such deliciousness. Fire it up!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate

Part of me wishes I'd thought a little more about the fact that I'd be doing a Whole30 when we put together our Winter Bucket List. The kids added plenty of sugary and off-limits treats to make and this dulce de leche hot chocolate looked a heck of a lot better than my carrots and guacamole snack. But if you are looking for an "easy-yet-fancy" hot chocolate recipe, this one appeared to hit the mark.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Friday Five!

You might have noticed that I dropped our Weekend Makes post a few weeks ago. We'd been putting together that Friday roundup for just about a year and I was getting sick of it! I found that I was identifying a lot of great makes, but we didn't always get around to making many of them. 

But I do really like the idea of having a constant Friday feature and the Weekend Makes was always a popular post. I've also always been surprised at how many views our 12-in-12 posts got, and I haven't done that in awhile either. So I decided to try a little bit of a combo for the next Friday post iteration: The Friday Five. Each Friday I'll share what we're actually: Reading, Playing, Cooking, Making, and Wanting. We'll see how it goes!! 
So here's what's what this week: 

Reading -- I'm reading Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (so, so interesting). Together, we're working our way through the first book in the much-anticipated (at least by us) new Norse mythology series from Rick Riordan: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer. We're also busy planning our next big trip: Scotland and Ireland! So everyone has picked one or two topics to research and we're deep into reference books on the countries. 

Playing -- If you follow us on Instagram, you'll know that we've been spending lots of our winter break doing puzzles. We particularly like the White Mountain series featuring layers of various items -- they are difficult, but the kids can still do them with us. And 1,000 pieces is about the right number of pieces for the family at this point. I count that as playing. 

Cooking -- Oy. We've been hosting something nearly every weekend since the beginning of November and eating, and eating, and eating. I can hardly wait to start a new Whole30 on January 2nd (I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune soon). We've been indulging a lot lately, but these slow cooker Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken Tacos are pretty healthy and have been a big favorite these past few weeks. 

Making -- There was a good reason we include the Kid Made Modern Crafts Case in pretty much every gift guide we make (including our 2016 Holiday Guide) -- it provides HOURS upon HOURS of crafting for the kids. And it's been in heavy rotation this winter break. The kids have made sculptures, sewed mini stockings for their stuffed animals, created jewelry, and on and on. 

Wanting -- Because we're just on the other side of several gift-intensive holidays, I can happily say that there is not much that the kids want right now. The influx of things into our home always causes me organizational anxiety, though. So I've been spending lots of winter break time making lists of what needs to be purged and organized once the kids are back at school. I'm also determined to create less food waste this year, so I've got my eyes on some refrigerator organizers