Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the best, freshest blueberry pie ever



My friend gave me this recipe last year when we were in the thick of what seemed like weekly blueberry picking. It became our go-to pie all last summer. I have made traditional blueberry pie before, but it is always so sicky sweet, I never really care for it. This pie is fast, low in sugar and super fresh and zingy. We made our first this week and are already looking forward to making more.



what you need:
4 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 c water
1 T butter
3 T cornstarch
1/4 C sugar/sweetener
a bit of lemon juice
cinnamon 
graham cracker crust

what to do:
Simmer 1 cup of blueberries in about 3/4 cup of water. When the berries start popping, add 1 tablespoon of butter, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch (dissolve in a bit of cold water and pour in slowly while stirring), squirt of lemon juice, pinch of cinnamon and 1/4 cup of your favorite sweetener. (We have used sugar, sucanat and more recently coconut palm sugar - but I imagine honey or cane syrup would be great too). Stir and cook until thick, clear and shiny. Take off heat and mix in 3 cups of blueberries. Pour into a graham cracker crust (we buy these premade) and chill for an hour or more. Serve with fresh whipped cream and get ready to sing to the angels. It is so good, and so refreshing - my favorite summer dessert!









Tuesday, April 26, 2011

blueberry picking











Blueberries are a newer crop to Florida, and we love it. They are much easier to pick than strawberries which are grown close to the ground. Stay tuned for a super pie recipe tomorrow...

Do you U Pick? If so, what?






Monday, April 25, 2011

time travel with kids, knights and turkey legs


 
Last week, we went to a local Renaissance festival. We are really interested in knights and castles right now, so the timing was perfect. This event is held in a scrub oak forest and the lay out is meandering path dotted with mystics, shops and food vendors.




You could test your strength by slamming a big mallet on a target that would ring a bell to let everyone know that there was a real brute in the mix. My strength was tested by not spending too much money on turkey legs or giant catapult toys (I will not even mention the swords and magic wands and costumes!)





The wandering entertainers were great, but the best show for our kids had to be the jousting knights. I was unable to get a good picture because we were so close up and in the action. You could hear the armor slamming against the ground. It was quite thrilling how the audience was so raucous and demanding blood throughout the battle.

What I find most exciting about this kind of event (or any other living history/re-enactment/convention) is that my kids get to see adults (other than their weird parents) who are playing and passionate about their interests. The entertainers and merchants were obviously entrenched in this other world and played their parts well. In ordinary life, most of the adult world must seem pretty drab; it is refreshing to step into another world, if even for just a few hours.

Have you gone to festivals like this? Do you want to? (I am really itching to go to a Lego convention next).








Friday, April 22, 2011

{this moment}

"Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember." via SouleMama.






Thursday, April 21, 2011

grated carrot salad






This is a staple in French delis for a healthy snack/salad/lunch. It keeps for a few days and is a great way to get loads of carrots into your diet. Here is our version - but it really lends itself to customization.

3 thickly grated carrots (we use the mandolin for this so they are crunchier)
oj (juice from one orange)
glug of olive or walnut oil
sprinkle of cumin
golden raisins or try some other dried fruit
s/p

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

bug art



Imagine my surprise, when I stumbled onto this really wonderful art exhbit at our local science museum.
Jennifer Angus transforms real bugs into elaborate wallpaper like designs and arranges them in weird doll house scenes where power dynamics are subverted.   The viewer has to get close to really see what is going on and then immediately gets sucked into this other world.






Many of the non-bug features of the diormamas are nautural materials like beeswax or leaves.









How brillant is this? If you love creepy, Victorian/Gothic design, this show is for you. What kid (or very cool adult) does not like a big goliath beetle locking up humans in a chicken coop?






If you have bug fanatics in your house, check out her work.  And then get ready to find shoebox scenes with cockroaches in your dining room.

This show is headed to the Craft and Folk Art Museum in LA at the end of May.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

lid marble run

Inspired by a project idea in Family Fun this month, we made marble runs from long boxes and straws. I feel like there is not too much I can say about this project because it is so straight forward and simple. But, that is the way we like to play and make.






The magazine shows a shoe box lid, but any box part will do as long as it has sides. I like this longer recycled box because you can complicate the design. Drawing the maze first is a good idea. Make sure you have false routes and dead ends.






 My kids have made these a few times and really enjoyed the problem solving and test runs. I love unplugged projects like this, especially when they utilize items I already have in the house.

Monday, April 18, 2011

nightstand reading



I love looking on people's nightstands to see what they are reading. I am always reading several books at once, so my stack usually has a bit of everything. I can not offer reviews, because I have not finished any of them yet. I read a bit of whatever I am need of each evening.



Freeing Your Child From Anxiety by Tamar Chansky

I have a child with a very active imagination and this book offers some ideas and coucil to help kids wrestle in that wonderful brain. Balloon breathing alone made the book worth it for us.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

I read about this book on another blog and then found a copy at the library sale. It must be meant for me to read. Being that I love food and to cook, I think this will be a quick and enjoyable escape.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

I am reading this for my book club. I probably will wish I had this a few years earlier when the princess thing was more topical in my house. It is especially interesting for my group as we live in central Florida, which is knee deep in princesses and a certain rodent. We go to Disney alot and are always greeted with icky voiced service workers, "welcome Princess..." My daughter just rolls her eyes. And my goodness, you should see the poor girls that are wearing hot, synthetic princess outfits, plastic high heels and big glittery hair extensions. They looks like prisoners in plastic - not princesses.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

A friend lent this to me. I am only about 150 pages into and have no sympathy or interest in the characters. I am going to try to tough it out, but right now it is not speaking to me. I am assured there is some redemption at the end.

Timeshifting  by Stephan Rechtschaffen

Who does not need more time? I feel like I have culled my life responsibilities down to the minimum and I still need more time. This book helps change perspective and offers some ideas for making time expand! A nice read.

If You Are Trying to Teach Kids How To Write, You Gotta Have This Book by Marjorie Frank
Because we homeschool, I am always reading something like this to get ideas or different perspectives. This book is pretty good because it emphasizes the relationship between the "teacher" and child. And there are many activities to encourage writing that are pulled from the real world, or are things that kids love to do already. A fun reference book.


So, what is on your nightstand?

Friday, April 15, 2011

{this moment}

"Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember." via SouleMama.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

back porch pizza



This is one of the ways we use up our veggies! We pre-grill/roast a ton of stuff up and store it in the fridge all week to add to pizza, sandwiches, omelets/frittatas, and salads. The pre-grilling not only takes the extra moisture out of the vegetables - but makes their flavor stronger, richer, and sweeter. So, everything you use them for will be that much better.

We have recently converted from cooking in our gas oven at super high temperatures to the outdoor gas grill. It is AMAZING! You might have to fool around with your grill to get it just right, but when you do....it is magic! We put our stone directly on the grill and heat up all four gas jets as high as they will go for 5-10 minutes, then turn the middle two (that are directly under the stone) down to low and keep the outside ones on high. Pizza cooks in about 7 minutes and your house is not heated up. This will be my lunch all summer!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

domestic art


So, my background is in art history and American studies with an emphasis on domestic culture and architecture. Can you imagine how in love I am with these paintings?  Holly Farrell is a self taught (!) artist who started painting at 28 years old.

 

Her nearly photo realistic paintings are both portraits and an archeological record of the domestic and mundane. By elevating common household objects into high art, she encourages the viewer to look closer at her environment and the things that occupy it.

 
The chipped mixing bowl, that is thoughtlessly grabbed and used a few times a week, becomes a relic of sustenance and care given.


 

The couch remembers all that has past between people while on its cushions.


Barbie is both a toy and perhaps the embodiment of certain ambitions and/or barriers of the women who might be just outside the picture plane.

I love how Farrell's work encourages me to think about the material culture in my own home and the homes of my past. Our connections to the objects in our lives are strong and real. I have heard that the elderly are more likely to decline when they are moved from long term homes into nursing homes because there are so many disconnections from material objects that it is overwhelming. The butter dish, the silverware, the can opener, the broom.... all these things connect us to our reality in powerful and physical ways that deserve to be considered.

I would like to document some of the objects of my life through photography and writing as an exercise in attention and thoughtfulness.  How about you? What would you document?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

they are so much more



They look so small and frail
but they are so great and magnificent. 
They are born of the same womb 
that birthed the cosmos
and knitted together the galaxies. 

If you could see them as they truly are, 
you would be astounded.
You would not see little children, 
but dancing clouds of light, 
energy in motion, 
swimming in an ocean of love. 

They are so much more 
than what you see.
As are you.


William Martin, The Parent's Tao Te Ching

Monday, April 11, 2011

design your own birthday




When my kids were younger, I spent the few months before their birthday thinking of "themes" and cakes and goody bags and more. This was sorta fun, but after a few years, it became obvious that all this work was about me and not the child. So, I started really watching and thinking about what it was that they loved about their birthdays, and began to focus on that.

This shift has been amazing! My work is diminished and the kids are in charge. We have a simple dinner with our 15-20 family members (it is usually some variation of Italian or Mexican), make and take cool cupcakes to our small homeschool coop and do some really fun event with just us (kids choice).

The biggest thing around here lately, is that the kids want to design their own cake. They love Cake Boss and have come up with some very elaborate ideas that have not quite been realized yet (moving parts, huge size etc.) I am actually really into the BIG ideas, but at this point pulling that off would be putting the project back in my realm and they really seem to love being in charge. So, I let them figure out what to do and what will work.

Earlier this year, my 7yo son made a moon crater cake with a Lego space vehicle he designed. He and the other kids spent a long afternoon creating aliens and space creatures out of fondant. The cake was great - all kid designed and constructed.

More recently, my 9yo daughter made a fairy cake with birds. She let her brothers make carnivorous plants to decorate the sides. And again, the planning, excitement, pride and love of this project made anything I have ever made or special ordered pale drastically in comparison.

My nearly 5yo is already planning his cake and the fever is spreading. For my birthday this year, I think I am going to spend a day making a special cake that speaks of who I am and what I am interested at this moment in my life. It might be something exotic in flavor, as I have been dreaming of some big adventures lately - maybe something fruity with an interesting herb/spice twist.....

What about you? Do you let your kids take a big part in celebration planning? What would your cake say about you this year?












Friday, April 8, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

map crazy


I have had this post idea in my queue for a while, but after reading Design Mom's piece here, I had to share. 

I am map crazy! I love maps and globes. I wrap nearly all my presents in old maps, use them for origami, book covers, crafts and could literally lose myself in their details as if they were a good book.

Last year, while living in another house temporarily, I used them as wallpaper in the small public bathroom. I had already peeled off some horrible 80's country blue and mauve floral paper and had a pretty rough wall left. So, I went to my stash, found maps for the places I loved to go or dreamed of going to and stuck them on the wall with wallpaper glue. The whole project took an hour or so and looked pretty cool. It was not a perfect job because I knew it was not permanent - but I loved the colors and the daily map study (if you know what I mean). In fact, I loved it so much, I would do it again. In a heartbeat. On a huge wall. But it would also do great in a small hallway or closet. It makes a big impact for little time or money investment.

What fast, huge impact project have you done in your home that you can not believe you ever lived without? (my second most favorite project includes chalkboard paint).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

camo bag with badges

This awesome bag was designed by Jenn-O Designs. She makes these cool diaper bags from actual military shirts. Some still have names on them (or she adds the name of a mom or dad serving overseas). This is such a great idea!


 


  This is Courtney, who ordered the bag and the merit badges and had them all put together. I love it!

 





Monday, April 4, 2011

how i earned the travel badge


 My husband and I thought taking our 6, 4 and 2 year old kids on a month long trip to the rain forests of Costa Rica sounded like a really great idea. And for the most part it was. However, there were a few times we felt our lives were really close to the end. Like driving across an ancient banana transport suspension bridge. A newer one was being build right next to it, because the old one was so unsafe (our driver told as as we swung back and forth while stalled in the bridge in bumper to bumper traffic). Or hanging out with wild packs of dogs, or almost running off a foggy mountain at breakneck speed while none of my kids were in car seats (although at the point, maybe it did not matter). You get the idea.




But the worst by far was when our 2yo got stung by a bullet ant while crossing this flooded, landslide causing river. This kid can fall down a flight of stairs and shake it off like nothing happened. So, when he screamed for the next two hours and we carried his 35# body through the rain forest, we were obviously pretty worried. When we were back at the station, the ranger figured out what had happened and was most concerned that his breathing was okay (what? now we were really freaked out). 
 


After lidocane, Motrin and the rest of the day sleeping, he was fine. But we knew that we had pushed ourselves into a new realm of adventure as a family, and as travel seems to do, we came out of the trip stronger than ever.

Share your travel adventures with me at amy at mamameritbadges dot com and you could win a travel badge!

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