Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fresh and Healthy Popsicle Ideas

Whenever my children go to Grandma & Grandpa's house, they get a special treat in the form of frozen sugar water- otherwise known as freeze pops. My 4 year old especially loves going there to get these sweet treats and, as summer is upon us, I figured I needed something to appease her need for popsicles.

I went out and bought a cheap popsicle mold at Target (maybe $2 or $3) to practice with. This one makes no claim to be BPA free, so I would suggest getting a Tovolo brand mold, which seems to be the predominant BPA-Free brand on the market.

From there, the possibilities are endless. What I basically do is make a smoothie in my handy-dandy Magic Bullet and then pour that into the mold. This consists of yogurt (go with vanilla yogurt, the plain can be a little sour in freeze pops) any mix of fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries... really whatever is in season) and that's it.

They are eco-friendly as you will not be wasting all of those plastic wrappers. They are great because you can control exactly what goes into them, from completely organic to way less sugar-infused. They are budget friendly as you can make them each for pennies or even less if you are using leftovers. They are a great way to entertain the kids as you can get them involved in making the pops. Homemade pops are pretty much a win all the way around- the kids are not going to care, but they are a great option.

There are dozens of different ways to make these treats:

• Aside from the fruit smoothie method, you can just use plain fruit juice watered down as much as you think necessary for your family.
• You can add a bit of water to the end of a jar of jam, shake it up and then pour that into a mold.
• You can use pudding and make some of those delicious chocolate pops. (if you were a really cool parent, you might even break up some cookie bits to add to this one... I am not that cool though... just ask my poor, deprived children.)
• You can use applesauce frozen alone or with other added fruit.
• Remember those orange creamsicles??? You can play with a recipe of orange juice and either vanilla yogurt or pudding or Cool Whip and you will get pretty much that exact flavor.
• For adults, you can make coffee or iced tea pops... you could even freeze some yummy chai tea!
• Lemonade makes great freeze pops, especially if you blend in a few blueberries... yum!

If you are the type of person who just needs a recipe, Allrecipes has some good ideas for you. Do you have any other favorite that you'd like to share???

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Citar: Spring Delight

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
-Kahlil Gibran

One of the things that entices me most as spring arrives is the ability to kick off my shoes- and to see my girls toes as they run barefoot at every opportunity... through the dewy grass, on the pavement as they shoot hoops, in the sandbox as the squish the sand in their toes, reaching for the sky as they pump their legs higher and higher on the swings, in the pool as they dip their toes in to test the temperature. I simply love my girls' feet, and living in a climate where they can only be without shoes half the time, I enjoy every second of it.

See more of my delight in their tootsies here.

Go visit Tabitha for more Sunday Citar.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kids Say The Darndest Things: All Three of Them

Annika (Age 4): Mom, Dad says that the yellow light means to slow down. So why do you always go faster?


At dinner:
Me: Ariana, what are you doing with your face over there? Why aren't you eating?
Ariana (Age 9): My uvula and my tongue are boxing. *

*Reason #546 we know that, no matter how beautiful she is, our little dork will never have a boyfriend.


And just to make sure we don't leave anyone out, here are a few things that Acadia (Age 21 months) is saying right now:

Bob berry= strawberry
I la loo= I love you (our absolute favorite phrase right now.)
Bob bob= Spongebob
Ananana= Ariana
Lopey Loap= Soap
Ubby= Tubby or bath or shower
Meddy= Messy
Baygo= Bagel

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lunch Fairy Land

Lunch is getting pretty darn boring in our house. Or at least I feel that it is. So today, I decided to jazz it up. I saw this idea somewhere on the internet months ago and finally decided to try it.

We had a visit from the lunch fairy. I named her 'So Sweet' and created a poem from her to mark her visit:
Yes, I did write that... I never claimed to be a poet, ok! I then put together a lunch, added the note along with some fairy dust, and voila:

Don't forget to take a bite of the sandwich and add some magical dust (sprinkles) around the bite: Here is the fairy card if you'd like to use it. I got the fairy art from ImaginismStudios- so check them out for some great mystical art.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why I will never be a hand model.

Yesterday was a great day to work outside... although not for my hands. I had quite the day for destroying my dear digits. It started when I snipped the tip of my finger off with the garden shears.. now it wasn't the bone or anything, but it was a good portion of the skin from the end of my finger... enough to produce a LOT of blood. And try to find a band aid in a house with a four year old who needs a band aid for every single scratch on her body.

Anyhow... after that wound who haphazardly dressed, I then got a heinous splinter exactly in the crease of my finger! See that?
I hate splinters!

Next up, I hate to rake a large portion of loam in the front yard to plant grass seed in. This made for some great blisters:

Ahh, as much as I love my spring projects, I really wish i would smarten up and put on a pair of gloves! (Yes, I do say this every year.) Today, I am going to build myself a potting table similar to this:
in hopes that if I have all my supplies close by and neat & orderly (including gloves) I may just use them... or, more likely, I will have new photos tomorrow of the damage I did to myself on aforementioned project!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Citar: A Recipe

“There is no use trying, said Alice; one can't believe impossible things. I dare say you haven't had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
-Lewis Carroll

Breakfast is by far my most favorite meal. I love the weekends when we can make a leisurely breakfast and enjoy some of our favorite treats. One that all 3 gilrs (and the neighborhood children) enjoy are these pancake muffins. When you take them out of the oven , the deflate, leaving a nice well for syrup, strawberries, blueberries... anything that strikes your fancy.

Here is the recipe:
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
6 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease your muffin tins. Mix all ingredients in a blender (or my handy-dandy Magic Bullet) until smooth. Pour your mixture into muffin tins. I filled about half way as they really expand when baking. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown on the tops.

Once you remove them from the oven, let the kids watch them deflate (this happens instantaniously) and they will be enthralled. You can then serve them up with any fixin's your family enjoys. My speciality is strawberries and syrup (real maple, of course!)

Go visit Tabitha for more Sunday Citar.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

28 Free or Cheap Family Fun Activities in New England This Summer

Wow, almost halfway through May... it is time to list my favorite free and cheap activities for families in New England this summer. The first thing I wanted to mention is already coming up on May 22 and that is a fantastic free event at the Hatch Shell in Boston: EarthFest will be held from 11:00am to 5:00 pm at the DCR's Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston. Presented by Whole Foods Market and free to the public, Radio 92.9 EarthFest will once again be a celebration for the Earth showcasing environmentally friendly products, groups, and activities. Radio 92.9 EarthFest will also feature an all-star musical line-up, an interactive family area and more. With musicians like Collective Soul, Gin Blossoms, Marcy Playground and family friendly artists Ben Rudnick and Friends, Black Diamonds, Debbie and Friends, there is something for the whole family. I can't wait to go to this one!

And a few more free/ nearly free summer activities:

#1 Regal Cinemas provides 9 weeks of free movies throughout the summer. The movies play at 10am Tuesday and Wednesday at select Regal movie theaters (in NH, it's Hooksett and Newington) Check out the site for theaters near you.

#2 Kids Bowl Free offers kids 2 free games of bowling every day during the summer. (Participating centers in NH are Keene and Manchester) This can be a great deal when you have a minivan full of kids like I do. Check out their website for centers near you.

#3 Probably my most favorite summer free event in New England is L.L.Bean’s 12th Annual Summer In The Park Series in Freeport, Maine. There’s music for everyone–from jazz to folk and indie and rock. Best of all, events are FREE FREE FREE. I have taken my girls to see Dan Zanes here in the past and I can tell you nothing beats watching your kids shake their bootie while the sun is shining in a nice park. This year you can catch Joshua Radin, Ingrid Michaelson, Tift Merritt and many more. I would advise to arrive early since Freeport is notorious for horrendous parking accommodations and the park is fairly small. There is a full listing on the LL Bean site.

#4 If you have a Bank of America ATM, credit or check card, you can get into hundreds of museums around the country absolutely free! (It includes The Currier Museum in Manchester and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) If you have a Bank of America card, you really should check out their website to find a museum near you.

#4 Prescott Park Arts Festival offers lots of activities from June through October. Although it is all free, there is a $5-$8 suggested donation. They have everything from Kids Fests to Food Festivals to concerts to art shows. Here's the website for more info.

#5 If you plan on going to the seacoast beaches a lot over the summer, you might want to check out the state parks website that offers discounted parking passes for the summer.

#6 Did you know that local libraries offer passes for free admission to local attractions? You check out the passes just like you would a book and return it within 3 days. Our Concord Library has passes to Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, Currier Museum of Art, Canterbury Shaker Village, Aviation History Museum of NH, The Fells and more. The library usually only has a couple of sets of passes for each venue so you want to call first thing in the morning to see if they are available and reserve them.

#7 The Currier Museum in Manchester offers 'Family Saturdays' every second Saturday of the month, 11 am – 2 pm Spend some quality family time at the Currier, participate in hands-on art activities, go on a guided family gallery walk (11:30 am), visit the new Discovery Gallery, or use a family gallery guide. Each Family Saturday will focus on a different theme. Museum admission is free from 10 am to 12 pm.

#8 The Children's Museum & Theater in Portland, Maine has a program on the first Friday night of each month from 5-8pm. Admission on First Friday night is $1 per person (members and children under age one are free). I have not visited this museum yet, but we do plan on it this summer when we make a trip to Maine to visit Acadia's namesake. If you have older children, you can participate in Portland's First Friday Art Walk, which had free admission to dozens of art establishments throughout the city from 5-8pm.

#9 Target is sponsoring some free museum admissions- although in New England they only have museums in Boston, Massachusetts: The Institute of Contemporary Art- Target Free Thursday Nights Free every Thursday, 5–9 p.m. Boston Children's Museum- Target $1 Friday Nights, $1 Admission every Friday, 5–9 p.m. More info here.

For 3 weekends over the summer, 100's of national parks are waiving entrance fees. This includes Acadia NP in Maine and many others. That could be anywhere from a $20- $40 savings!

And In New Hampshire:
• Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Competition: June 13-38. Just go check out the amazing sand sculptures.
• Cathedral of the Pines: Rindge, NH. Explore the extraordinary sanctuary grounds, meditate in outdoor chapels and gardens, and learn the history.
• Weirs Beach Drive-In Theater: $17 for 2 adults and 2 children to see TWO movies. Way better than sitting in a cramped theater and the kids will love it. Be warned, they only accept cash.
• Milford Drive-In Theater: $20 per car.
• New Hampshire has a lot of gorgeous waterfalls. Some of them require no hiking and some offer a quick dip in some crystal clear water. Kids really love to watch waterfalls and play around in the water.
• Pick your own fruits and vegetables. This site has a great, comprehensive list of a lot of pick-your-own farms. My kids love to do this, we can go from June through October and pick everything from berries to apples to pumpkins. And most farms usually have a nice playground to amuse the kids for even longer. Our favorite here in Concord is Apple Hill Farm.
• Swimming: Try either Echo lake. The Echo Lake in Franconia Notch is our favorite. We have taken Ariana there since she was 2 years old and she loves it. The great part is that is so near great hikes. Colby's favorite is to hike up to Artists Bluff and then swim in the lake for awhile. The hike offers great views yet is easy enough for a toddler to complete.
The Echo Lake State Park in North Conway can get busy with tourists, but it is a nice, refreshing dip which also offers some hikes up to ledges above.
Fisher Cats Baseball: What a great family activity that is inexpensive yet the kids love it. July 5th is the Atlas Fireworks show which adds a whole new excitement to the game.

In Maine:
• Portland Observatory Tours: Guided tours of the only remaining historic maritime signal tower in the United States offer spectacular views of Portland, Casco Bay, Back Cove and Mt. Washington.
• The Wiggly Bridge Footpath: Route 103, York Harbor. This bridge is the smallest suspension bridge in the world. This is a nice site that is not overrun by tourists and offers a nice easy stroll through the woods.
• Acadia National Park: (Yes, this is Acadia's namesake.) I think the is possibly the nicest park in New England. It offers great hiking, biking, horseback riding, a Naturalist Program, a lake for canoeing or swimming and sooo much more. I really recommend Acadia to any family looking to enjoy the great outdoors.

In Massachusetts:
• Boston Freedom Trail: The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites, every one an authentic American treasure.
Boston Common Frog Pond: Oldest park in the US. Free spray pool to cool off and a great area for a family picnic. Great way to start off the Freedom Trail.
• Free Friday Flicks at the Boston Hatch Shell: (No schedule posted yet.) Just show up at sundown with your blanket or chair and enjoy.

• Franklin Park Zoo: First Saturday of each month 1/2 off admission. Our family of 5 could get in for $20. Although, we have not yet visited, so I cannot give an accurate review of the zoo.
• Walden Pond State Reservation: Concord, MA. See what moved Henry David Thoreau and have a nice picnic and dip in the pond. The cost is just a $5 parking fee.
• The Butterfly Place: Westford, MA. We've never been, but my girls really want to go.
• Forest Park & Zoo: Springfield, MA. Take a train ride through and enjoy the wildlife.

Any ideas for me to add????

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Etsy Find for a Tuesday

Look how gorgeous my new ring is! I love Etsy. I stumbled across this fun ring on the Faded Rose one day and fell in love with the Aurora's Kiss dahlia. The dahlia is one of my favorite flowers- coupled with the vintage looking band- I was instantly enamoured. And the rest of the jewelry in this shop? So fun- you have to check it out. Next up? One of her necklaces... which do you like best???

Wait, I didn't even mention that my ring was only $15... with FREE shipping! And the necklaces are only $28-$38.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sunday Citar: I Exist

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

Square Foot Gardening: New England Style

This is year four of my growing a vegetable garden... and it has not been a very fruitful journey. The above photo was pretty much the whole bounty from last years garden. Sad, huh? My first year, the garden was completely flooded. The second year, it simply didn't grow... poor soil... poor watering... poor light??? Who knows? Last year, I meticulously hand tilled, added tons of organic soil, spent hours and days tending to the garden, only to have so much rain that everything pretty much molded or simply couldn't grow.

So, this is my last ditch attempt and a whole new idea... I am trying a raised square foot garden. This should solve the whole water issue, since the recipe I used for the soil is extremely conducive to drainage and, since it is raised, it would be really hard to flood it.

I started by building my box at 4 feet by 4 feet with landscape timbers I already had on hand and a few purchased lag bolts. This was clearly the hardest part... especially since I built it on the deck, not thinking of how heavy it would be to move!

After that, I used a wheel barrow to mix up some soil consisting of peat moss, compost and perlite (all found at my local garden center.) It makes a very fluffy mixture, so much that I asked a friend about it retaining water and she assured me that when she used peat moss, she had her best crops ever.

This is a great point for the kids to join is as they will love to stir up the mix.

After the mixture was stirred well, we added it to the garden. Acadia then decided to climb in to make sure it was appropriately mixed...

Use string ans screws to portion the garden off into square foot segments. You will plant one vegetable per square foot, which is supposed to yield a considerable amount more per square foot than row gardening. I found this handy chart on how to plant each vegetable in each square foot.

So far, I have only planed my basil (hellllooo, yummy pesto!)

If you are in New England, use this chart to tell when to plant your vegetables. I am still waiting for some of my other seedlings to grow hardy enough to put outside. Wish me luck. I will post often to see how it is progressing. Check out MySquareGarden.net as a great resource for any questions you have.

All this veggie talk has my hungry for a salad... check out of my great summer recipes from previous years: delicious salads.... and more delicious salads.

Monday, May 3, 2010

BlogTrotting: Adventures in New Hampshire

I am being featured today on Blogtrotting- A Virtual Travel Blog. So welcome to anyone who is coming here to find out about central New Hampshire. I live in Penacook, New Hampshire, but sometimes you won't even find it on a map because it is an itty-bitty suburb of Concord, our state capital.

I can not say enough about my home. I mean, when this is your view when you take a walk... ...how could I ever complain?

We live in 4 distinct seasons here.
Our springs are quite wet and, in recent years, have been marked by floods.

Summer either brings you to the ocean (which is about half an hour from us): But, since our ocean temps only average in the upper 50's for the summer, we are more likely going to swim in the abundant lakes, which offer water sports, hiking, fishing, boating...

Our autumn offers the most spectacular foliage colors that it brings thousands of people to the state every October.

Our winters are quite snowy, which is wonderful for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, ice climbing... and, of course, building snowmen.

Any person who does not love New Hampshire, can not possible love the great outdoors. We have so many gorgeous places to hike... We have 48 4000' mountains to explore, not to mention all of the other other gorgeous adventures.

One of my favorite things I have discovered since living here are the farms. We can do anything from pick strawberries... to apples... to pumpkins... to see farm petting zoos to hayrides or sleigh rides... You have never seen simple joy and fun until you have taken your children to a farm.

Although, NH does offer a metropolitan life, filled with concerts, sporting events, theaters, museums, etc... the part I enjoy most is floating down the river in a canoe... jumping from a rope swing... hiking to the dozens of waterfalls... running through a corn maze... attending a local fair or festival...

or just sitting and watching the sun set...

Wanna come for a visit????

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Citar: Art

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
-Pablo Picasso