Thursday, May 9, 2013
I usually write about kid related stuff here but today in honor of all you mama's out there, I am sharing one of my all time favorite recipes for Mom's only (maybe a few spouses if you are feeling like sharing.) A few years ago my friend Debbie told me all about the awesomeness of cold brewed coffee. At the time I was swamped with work and kids and too overwhelmed to even give it a try. Finally the school year ended, summer came and I had the time to give it a try. It was so unbelievably good, I turned right around and told everyone I knew about the awesomeness of cold brewed coffee. While I am generally a fan of any coffee and really any iced coffee, this iced coffee is different. It is smooth, rich and creamy, even if you don't add anything to it. Not only that but it is really easy to make.
- Mix 1 1/3 cups of ground coffee (any kind) to 4 cups of water and let sit for 12-24 hours.
- Drain coffee grinds and pour remaining coffee into a pitcher to store in the fridge for up to a week.
I usually mix my ground coffee and water into a pitcher, and let them sit for 12-24 hours in the fridge or on the counter. I then drain the grinds with a mesh strainer but any small strainer would work. I then pour the coffee back into the pitcher and keep it in the fridge. I have read that the coffee is good in the fridge for up to a week but it has never made it that long in my house. In the hot summer months we usually make a pitcher every other day.
So to all the Mom's I wish you the happiest of Mother's days and hope that you enjoy a few minutes to sit and sip!
Posted by Katie at 2:26 PM
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Unbelievably the girls only have 2 more weeks of preschool left! That means that in two weeks we will officially be on summer vacations. I have mixed feeling about this. When I was teacher I used to look forward every year to summer break only to find that I would spend the first few weeks sort of lost. Without my normal schedule and I was mostly overwhelmed with the freedom to do whatever. After a few weeks I would usually fall into the rhythm of summer and all would be well again. Once I had the girls, I found the transition to summer even harder. With the girls, the glorious days of late sunsets started to feel really long. Without our normal school year routine I started to find the days really hard to fill. After a few weeks of floundering I would usually realize that we needed a plan, a schedule, something to keep us all on track. The kids needed to wake up in the morning and have some idea of what the day was going to look like. I needed something to fall back on when everyone got grumpy, myself included. So I created a loose weekly schedule giving each day a theme. I wanted the schedule to be enough to give us some direction without over planning our summer and not leaving room for spontaneous summer fun. So the last few weeks I have been updating our schedule a little and thought that I would share it here. Starting in just a few weeks I am hoping to share a weekly post with a schedule for the upcoming week. Each week will include activities (some new, some we have done on here before) that are really just a suggestion, a starting point, somewhere to go to when you need a plan. I will write each activity as open ended as possible so that it can be applied or altered slightly to fit lots of families and kids of all ages. As always, this newest series will be a work in progress and I would love any help, ideas or suggestions! What is your favorite summer activity? What was your favorite thing to do in the summer when you were a kid?
Friday, April 12, 2013
Spring in Baltimore is a finicky thing! This week we have had temperature in the low to mid 90's, two weeks ago we had snow. You just never know. So every Spring we take multiple trips to Sherwood Gardens waiting for the peak tulip days. Some years this happens early in April other years it is closer to the start of May. Yesterday we went over to visit the gardens and found that most of the beds haven't bloomed yet, but many are getting close and a few are out in full force. Sherwood Gardens is located in North Baltimore in the Guilford neighborhood. The six acre gardens are free and open to anyone and are the prefect spot for walking, climbing, picnincing or just enjoying the spring weather. The girls love to go check out the flowers (despite my constant reminders not to pick them), they have a few favorite trees there perfect for climbing, there is plenty of space for running and lots of benches to sit on. We almost always bring a blanket and a snack. I am guessing another week or so before the tulips are in full bloom (although I am no expert) and then in the end of May the tulip bulbs will be dug out and sold to anyone interested in having tulips in their own garden next Spring!
Posted by Katie at 2:41 PM
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
I had read about Sumingashi, Japanese marbling, a few times but over the winter I had a chance to try it at the Mesh Baltimore Skill Share. Ever since I tried it I have been meaning to get a Sumingashi kit to try with the girls. I finally got one a few weeks ago from amazon for about $12. The kit contained 6 tubes of ink and a page of small perforated paper discs along with some instructions.
I found a large plastic tub and filled it with 2-3 inches of water. I also cut some larger newsprint paper down to a size that would easily fit in the tub. The girls then popped out one of the paper discs and floated it in the water, the disc sank just below the surface and moved around the tub. Next they selected a color and squeezed out just 1-2 drops of the ink aiming for the small paper disc as the instructions said. The Bee was pretty good at hitting the disc but the Bean's aim wasn't as good, so I was happy to find that hitting the disc didn't really seem to make to much of a difference. After the ink hit the surface of the water it begin to expand out in large rings. We then did another color and another creating a beautiful pattern. After we had added a few colors of ink we used the back of a long thin paint brush just to slowly go across the water and swirl the ink a little. Finally the girls took turn placing a piece of paper onto the surface of the water, letting it soak up the ink before carefully taking it out and setting it aside to dry. The papers quickly soaked up the ink leaving a beautiful marbled pattern. I was a little worried that the new print might be too thing but it worked perfectly.
After making our first piece we went on to make about twenty more, its kind of addicting. The girls loved using the inks and trying out the different colors. We all loved seeing what patterns would emerge. After making a bunch of papers we stopped for the day but still have most of the ink left so we will definitely have to make more soon. Anyone have any ideas what we could use our marbled papers for?
Posted by Katie at 1:38 PM
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Spring is starting to arrive finally!!! We have been spending a lot more time playing out back which has meant a lot of time in the mud. The girls have been finding any standing water or when the can't find any asking me to fill up the watering can. Then filling all containers with with dirt and water. Mixing, pouring, stirring and transferring again and again. They could and have been spending a long time out there playing with the mud. They make mud pies, mud soup, have pretend cooking shows and use the bicycle to make mud milkshakes (if you are a visitor of the Waverly Farmers Market you know what I mean.) They are of course filthy by the time they come in so we have also seen an increase in laundry, but it's for a good cause. I think making mud pies is one of those rites of childhood things, I can so clearly remember doing the same thing when I was a kid and loving it.
Monday, April 1, 2013
A few weeks ago I received a package in the mail and was kind of surprised when I opened it to find Styrofoam packing peanuts. We get a lot of stuff through the mail and rarely do they use packing peanuts any more. The girls however were delighted to see the packing peanuts. Before they became a crushed mess all over the floor, we decided to use them to make sculptures. I grabbed a piece paper for each of the girls to use as a base for their sculpture. I then went to get some glue and saw our colored glue, leftover from our glue painting, which I thought might be fun for this project too. I then turned the packing peanuts and glue over to the girls. The Bee was mostly interested in building up, the Bean just liked gluing then putting the packing peanuts into the glue. Both of them had a great time playing around and the colorful glue was a great addition to the plain white packing peanuts.
Posted by Katie at 2:36 PM
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Over the girls spring break we took a field trip to the Baltimore Museum of Industry. While they had never actually been there before the girls were very excited about the trip because the Baltimore Museum of Industry is where my husband and I got married. The girls love looking at our old wedding photos, seeing us much, much younger, in beautiful clothes. The Bee has asked me a thousand questions about our wedding and were we got married so going to the Museum of Industry to see it first hand was pretty exciting. All the wedding stuff aside, I was curious to go to the museum with the kids and see what they would they would think of it.
The Baltimore Museum of Industry is located right on Key Highway just the Visionary Art Museum from the Harbor. It is open Tuesday-Friday from 10am-4pm and they often have special events and programs for families, to find out check the website. The museum is free to kids under 6 and the admission for adults is $12, kids over 6 are $7. When we first walked in I have to admit I got a little nervous, there is a lot of cool stuff to look at and a lot of cool stuff you don't want your little kids to touch. I was pleasantly surprised that the girls seemed to get that and were pretty happy to wander and look. A lot of the history and facts went right over their heads, although would probably be interesting to kids a little older, but they liked looking at all the old machines, tools, printing presses and other cool stuff. We quickly discovered that every room had a small green trunk just for the littlest visitors filled with kids books, puzzles, pictures and other stuff related to the exhibit in the room. The girls loved these trunks and began scanning every room we entered to find the trunk. We spent a good 30-40 minutes just wandering through the museum checking stuff out and looking in the trunks. The girls loved the lotto machine and I was fascinated by the printing press room. After walking around through the inside of the museum we walked outside for an incredible view of the harbor. There is also a large pavilion with some picnic tables, so I am thinking next time we might go and bring lunch to eat outside. The girls had fun playing outside for a while, looking at the water, and running around the large sculpture on the grounds. When we it was time to go the Bee was sad to leave, always a good sign of a successful field trip. I am hoping we can go back this spring or summer to check out one of their family programs or maybe just have a picnic lunch by the water.
Posted by Katie at 1:55 PM
Monday, March 25, 2013
Finally the day the Bee has been waiting for for over two years has arrived! Snow in Baltimore is sort of a hit or miss thing, some years we get lots and some years we get none. The last two years has fallen in the none (or very, very little) category. While we have had a few dustings this winter we have not had enough snow to sled and it has been making the Bee crazy. All she has been wanting to do was go sledding. So this morning when we woke up, we were all a little surprised to not just find snow but to find a lot of snow. There was no question what we would do this morning. So we got all bundled up and took a short car ride to a nearby school with a huge hill perfect for sledding. We were delighted to find some of our friends already on the sledding hill and lots of other kids with the same good idea. I was honestly a little nervous, after all the hype, that they wouldn't really like it. Or that they would be too scared or too cold. But they loved it. The Bean just as much as her big sister. So we got in our sledding day, but just barely. Now, let's see some Spring!
Posted by Katie at 1:28 PM
Friday, March 22, 2013
Last week we went to play at my friend Anne's house, she is always making cool stuff with her daughter and this time she had a beautiful contact paper butterfly in her front window. We have done a fair amount of contact paper stuff at our house but we have always used paper (or accidentally glitter) but Anne used ribbon. Which not only looked awesome but seemed like a fun and easy kid/toddler material. So inspired by Anne we used our overabundant ribbon collection this week to make eggs. I started by taping pieces of clear contact paper, sticky side up to the table. I then cut out four egg shapes from a piece of heavy construction paper. Next, I brought down our collection of ribbon and started cutting little strips. It was fascinating to me to see how the girls decided to put down their strips. The Bee who is usually the more particular of the two, put her ribbon down so it overlapped and went in all directions. The Bean, usually more of the rule breaker, neatly laid all her ribbon horizontally across her egg. They both loved using the ribbon and, honestly could have made several eggs each but I used the last of the contact paper on the two we made. Once they were done, I laid another construction paper egg cut out over the first and then covered them with another layer of contact paper, this time sticky side down. I then cut the eggs out and taped them up into the window above the kitchen table. The girls have loved looking at them and they look great when the sun shines through! They are just the springy decor we needed in our house, now if only the weather would follow along.
Posted by Katie at 2:08 PM
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Last week in that awkward hour before dinner, where you don't really want to start anything because you know you need to start making dinner but you also need to find something for kids to do because they are getting tired and cranky, the Bee asked to paint. "Great" I said "but lets use watercolors." That somehow seemed less messy and more manageable at the dinner hour. The Bee however was not thrilled with my response. In fact she replied with the something about how boring just watercolors was. Rather then give some art teachery speech about the awesomness of watercolors, I said how about watercolor and salt (a technique I used to use back in my art teacher days.) Somehow the addition of salt made the whole thing much less boring and the Bee was sold.
I quickly set up the table with some watercolor paper, a pan of liquid watercolors (my favorite for little ones, especially toddlers), some water, brushes, crayons and two little cups of table salt. I told the girls that if they sprinkled a little salt onto their painting something cool would happen. The Bee played around with putting salt on the paper then painting on top as well, painting and then sprinkling salt on while it was still wet and even mixing a little salt into the paints or water. The Bean did her own thing. She painted for a bit, then poured all the salt out onto her paper, mixed a little watercolors into the salt and then drew in the salt. Which was not exactly what I had intended but worked well too. After they finished we set the paintings aside to dry. The next morning the Bee helped me wipe all the salt off the painting. She loved seeing the results of what the salt had done to the paint. In some places it left color changes, in others textures and patterns. This was definitely a good experiment in process. Although the finished painting were beautiful too. I foresee some more watercolor and salt painting in our future!
Posted by Katie at 1:14 PM