Sunday, April 29, 2012

Screen Free-Week and some photo updates

OK, so you may just think I'm getting terribly behind on the blog, but my camera is actually in the shop (yet again...apparently I'm not quite as 'gentle' on things as I once was... could be that I use it EVERY day! thank heavens for our Extended Warranty!). All the photos on this entry are courtesy of the iPhone... sigh. Just when you think I'm getting caught up, I have some blog-related news for you. We are participating in the national Screen-Free week starting tomorrow (Monday, 4-30) through Sunday 5-6. So.... in combination with no camera, I'm going to be taking a short hiatus from the blog, Facebook, etc. (I will be checking my email account once/day just in case any Beloved Buddy orders come through, so you will be able to still get to me).
What is Screen-Free Week? It's a celebration of unplugging for a week! While my kids are already unplugged (no tv, computer, etc), I want to see exactly what my reaction will be to cutting off my computer time. Mainly Facebook, as that seems to currently be the biggest time vortex in my life. I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't miss it nearly as much as I think I will.



So-- we'll check back in with you sometime next week (we'll be in Phoenix by the time I can plug back in).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dandelion Muffins!

Alex and I gathered a hat-ful of dandelion blossoms from the grounds at the Minnesota Waldorf School.  After soaking them for 24 hours in salty water (to clean and get rid of any critters), we decided to use some of our homegrown rhubarb too.  So, I adapted a little from this one.  They were DELICIOUS!  And (as sometimes happens in our kitchen) we focused so much on our baking that we had them in lieu of a 'real' dinner.  Mmmm...
Wild Dandelion Blossom and Rhubarb Muffins

Streusel

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons melted butter
Handful of Chia Seeds

Muffin1 large egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup  yogurt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Throw in some flaxseed (maybe 2 Tbsp?)
1 cup diced rhubarb, in teeny tiny pieces
1 cup dandelion blossoms (no greens, just the yellow petals)

Mix muffin mix together until just blended (will be a bit lumpy).  Spoon into greased muffin tins.  Top with 1 tbsp/or so of streusel mix.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 min (I think...honestly I was minding the one year old during the baking so I forgot about the muffins several times and didn't have a timer running).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wild and Crazy Night

Inspired by a fairly recent Facebook post from a MWS Mama, I decided to 'ditch' the meal plan for tonight and do something completely different. We made smoothies for dinner! To be specific, Kale- Spinach-Mango-Cherry-Banana-Pineapple-Strawberry-Chia-Flaxseed Yogurt smoothies. (We used up all of the cherries we pitted and froze last summer to make it nice and chilly!)

Justin figured out how to operate the blender. Not sure if this is a good thing or not....


The kids and I thought they were a great stand-alone, and even Dave admitted they were quite tasty. Naked baby at dinner time. Also wild and crazy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Book Basket

It has been such an early spring that we've had these books in our book basket for quite a while now!  Thought I'd record the favorites for this season- 
Let's Grow a Garden by Gyo Fujikawa (book from my childhood)
Rabbit School by Albert Sixtus
Emily and Daisy by Elsa Beskow
Springtime in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
Peter Rabbit Giant Treasury by Beatrix Potter
Spring: A Haiku Story by George Shannon (a selection of great springtime haikus!)

Happy Spring Reading!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Adventure Thursday: Minneapolis Institute of Arts

I knew I'd been saving this outing for the perfect time. Alex is just at the right age to enjoy walking the art galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, commenting on the paintings she enjoys and thinking about what she likes and does not like about them. Justin is such an easy-going guy, it was a pleasure to bring him as well! I tried (really hard, I promise) to not talk too much (having to stop myself SEVERAL times as I almost launched into explanations of the Ancient Egyptian afterlife or Japanese printmaking). She brought her drawing board, sketchbook and pencils so that she could sketch if she felt inspired. I merely suggested that if she saw anything that made her want to draw we could stop ANYWHERE and draw, just 'like a real artist'. Buoyed by the sighting of several other 'real artists', she found inspiration in a variety of places. The first stop was by an ancient Syrian mosaic of birds and foliage-- a girl after my own heart, as I am drawn to mosaics and animal imagery. Justin brought along his sketchbook, too, and I think many of the guards got a kick out of the 16 month old 'sketching' with his big sister. She also enjoyed the Maruyama Okyo paintings. "They're nature paintings, Mama. I feel like drawing a tree" So she did (Justin liked a painting of a deer in this room, and it was all I could do to keep him from running into it at full tilt). Here is a shot of her with her "delicate flower drawing", inspired by some Chinese plant ink and watercolor pieces.
The MIA is a great place to go with kids, provided you take it at their pace and don't get bogged down in seeing everything. We did half a floor (Alex leading the way), had a croissant and sparkling juice at the cafe, did a half of another floor, hit the 'family activity area', where we read some books and let Justin run around, went to the gift shop to pick out Alex's favorite art postcard, and then headed home. We will definitely be back, sooner than later, to continue our adventure!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spontaneity after School

It was Alex's friend Willy's birthday celebration at school today, and, coupled with the beautiful weather, we decided to be spontaneous and join him (and a few other friends) at the Tamarack Nature Center for an after-school picnic playdate. The kids were all tired, so they spent the majority of their time together playing quietly inside the logs & hollows playspace-- in the stick teepee. Justin and the two other younger siblings played in the sand pit while the Mamas talked. What a nice way to spend the afternoon.... it was well worth the inevitable 'exhaustion' tempertantrums that ensued later on at home ;-) The kids happily volunteered to fold the picnic quilt. Where are you going?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bowling!

On a whim, we decided to take the kids bowling yesterday evening. Despite the rainy skies, the bowling alley was pretty empty. Once we all got over the initial sensory overload of loud music, sounds of bowling balls striking pins, a guy dressed as Darth Maul (birthday party for little boys?!? luckily Alex didn't really see him) and the tv screens over every lane (yuck!), we settled in and had a great time. [Note: This was the 'normal' side of the establishment. For just $5 more you could bowl with strobe lights, black lights, dance music and fog)]

Justin was in HEAVEN-- surrounded by BALLS!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dave Cut the Cheese....

sorry for the horrible title, but I just couldn't resist.We've made our own Mozzarella cheese a few times, and today was Dave & Alex's first time working together. Enjoy the photos below (cheesemaking kit and instructions found here).


What's he doing? Hee hee hee....Everything went according to plan until the stretching phase. I think we heated it up too many times and lost the integrity of the curd.
Fortunately it was still delicious-- warm and salty cottage cheese instead of a log of Mozzarella.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Garden Time

Aside from a family bike ride this morning (Alex is now officially a 'pro'), we spent the rest of the day in the backyard, getting the garden all ready for summer. We've not done any serious maintenance in a few years, so today was all about breaking up the ground, removing some layers of clay and adding a delicious mix of compost and topsoil. Why do I say 'delicious'? I have no idea...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Butter-Making

A combination of a desire to make something from scratch AND a desire to occupy the children for a good chunk of time, we decided to make our own butter for dinner this evening. I remember doing this in 5th? grade. It must have been for the Westward Expansion unit-- pioneer stuff, I'm sure. All I remember from that experience is how LONG it took to do and how DELICIOUS and creamy the fresh butter was on our saltine crackers. But I digress... we were serving baked sweet potatoes for dinner tonight and needed some fresh honey butter to top them with. To work! Normally we don't have 'normal' milk in the fridge (being lactose-intolerant and all), but we use it to make our homemade mozzarella (post on that to come in a few days), so we had a bit to spare. Each child received some whole creamline milk in a clean baby food jar. The shaking began! Alex stuck with the task (Justin was relieved of his duties as soon as he started throwing the jar instead of shaking it) and was rewarded with a gorgeous 'ball' of butter (it took probably 20 minutes of shaking to start forming, 30 minutes to be solid enough to be usable). We strained with a cheesecloth, added a bit of salt and some honey and shook again to combine. She had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the process (although I was informed that Miss Brenda has a churn, and it "would certainly be easier to use a churn, but shaking is fun too"). The result! We probably won't be making ALL of our own butter, but it's an easy project every now and then.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Adventure Thursday

Alex woke up this morning to find a 'packing list' by her bed. She was responsible for gathering everything on the list before we could go on our Adventure Thursday outing! After we got our things together (and got pants on Justin... I tell you, that kid is squirmy!), we headed to Lake Elmo Reserve for a little hiking. I know I've said it before, but I love my job. We geared up and took a nice 20-25 minute hike in and back. We didn't travel much mileage, but we sure enjoyed the sights, smells, and sounds of an early morning in the woods. We even managed to sneak up on a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret hunting for their breakfast. The Heron noticed us and flew a bit further down the shoreline, but we still got to observe him catch a fish out of the water, fling it around a bit and eat it! I don't know if Justin saw much... every time I looked back his hat was over his eyes. This is why it's easier to hike with two parents! Exploring the mucky 'shore'. Alex really wanted to spot some fish, as we saw the Heron catch one. No luck in our part of the pond, though...Having a snack after the hike. Gotta keep that energy up! :-) e

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bike Riding

After we arrived home, the only thing Alex has wanted to do is practice riding. Here's a quick video of our girl learning to ride her bike! This (Tuesday) was the first day she rode it on the sidewalk (she'd had a few practice sessions on the grass in Iowa).



Today (Wednesday) she rode it all the way to the school park (about a half-mile) and back with me running alongside her- she figured out how to get on and get started all on her own!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday: Egg Hunt

Our Egg Hunt was beautiful! We... er... the Easter Bunny.... hid a combination of Marotz family felt eggs and a bunch of crazy-colored plastic ones filled with candy. Easter was pared down a bit this year, with Alex and Justin each receiving one thing to wear (Alex was overjoyed to get a new set of underwear!), one book and 'one' toy (or set of toys that all basically worked together... we're working on this simplicity thing--). Alex started out the hunt on her own, as Justin was still napping. She had her 'section' of the yard and made a beeline for her big 'toy'. She received a new 'big girl' bike (no training wheels) from the Easter Bunny!! Because of her prowess on her Skuut bike, we're hoping it will be a fairly painless transition. After Justin woke up, Alex was ready to help him learn how to hunt eggs. He preferred to sit on the patio and take the eggs apart. There were brightly colored THINGS inside of them (he didn't realize you could eat the jellybeans, but they made really fun shaking noises!). Alex ended up gathering his eggs for him as he dissected them from a safe, smooth vantage point. Enjoy the photos.
Happy Easter!