Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sun Tea

We made sun tea last week and it was delicious.  It is so easy to make.  Simply place four to six tea bags in a pitcher and fill it with two quarts of cold water.  Cover the pitcher and place it outside in the sunlight for three to five hours.  If the sun moves, move your pitcher so that it is always in the sun. 

Enjoy over ice with a little lemon.  We like our iced tea unsweetened, but you can certainly sweeten it however you like.  Refrigerate the leftovers, if you have any!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sun Bread

I love Elisa Kleven.  For us, it started with The Paper Princess series and because we enjoyed those books so much, we borrowed everything we could find by her from the library.  We have enjoyed every single book!

Sun Bread begins on a cold and dreary day.  Everyone misses the sun, and the baker decides to bake a sun bread.  As the bread bakes, everyone (including the sun) comes out to share in its goodness.  C and R both loved reading this book.  The illustrations are colorful and they enjoyed finding some of the characters from other Elisa Kleven books.  At the end of the book, there is a recipe for sun bread.  This is the first time I have ever made bread from scratch without using a bread machine.  Click here for the sun bread recipe posted on Elisa Kleven's website.  The recipe is easy, and C and R enjoyed making and eating the bread. 

C and R mixed all of the ingredients.  We had to knead the dough for eight minutes and C did it the entire time!  He really enjoyed kneading.  R was outside playing with neighborhood kids while C did this.

The dough had to rise for an hour.  Then we shaped it to look like a sun.  C and R enjoyed using their fingers to make the eyes and mouth, and they really liked forming the sun's corona.  To do this we made long snakes of dough, curled them into snail shapes and attached them to the sun.

Once the sun was formed, we let it rise for another hour and then baked it in the oven for twenty minutes.

There is nothing tastier than warm bread right out of the oven, especially when it is smothered in homemade butter also made by C and R.

For those of you who have asked why my husband's photo never appears, that is his thumb!  He likes his anonymity but I guess he won't mind his thumb appearing here!  He enjoyed the bread too!

The book is fantastic and so is the bread recipe.  I recommend both!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Homemade Butter

Making butter is one of the activities on our summer bucket list and we got to check that off this week.  This was so easy to do, and C and R were really amazed by the whole process.  If you have not made homemade butter before, this is how you do it:

First, put a clean marble in a clean pint sized glass jar with a screw-on top.  Then add half a pint of heavy cream and screw the cap on tight.

 R just had her hair cut the day of this photo.  Super cute, right?

Take turns shaking and shaking and shaking.  (Mom worried that someone would drop the glass jar!  Luckily, that did not happen.  Phew!  You can use plastic, but glass is recommended so that is what we used.)

C got a haircut too!

You will hear the marble for a while, but when you can't really hear it moving around anymore, your butter is almost finished.  Once you can see the glob of butter in the jar, pour out the buttermilk and wash the butter.  You wash the butter by rinsing cold water over it until the water is almost clear.  This will make your butter last longer.  Don't forget to remove the marble from your butter, and store your butter in the refrigerator.  The buttermilk you pour out can be used for another recipe.  I used our buttermilk to make apple pecan muffins!  Tomorrow, you will read about what we ate with our homemade butter!

Just in case you were wondering, I will tell you about the science behind making butter.  Cream or milk contains fat in the form of drops suspended in the liquid.  The reason this process works is that the shaking of the container forces the fat drops to come together and stick in the form of butter.  The marble stirs the liquid during the shaking, allowing more drops from different areas of the liquid to come together.

Remember to come back tomorrow to read about the super cool and yummy treat we made to eat with our butter!

I am linking this to Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tea Party Breakfast

Yesterday, we had a tea party breakfast.  We own the book, Fancy Nancy Tea Parties by Jane O'Connor and we used some of her ideas.  The book is cute; it is basically a how to guide for hosting tea parties.  We also read Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk and Tea for Me, Tea for You by Laura Rader.  Both of the books are great.

C and R helped me make apple pecan muffins (the recipe is from Ellie Krieger from the Food Network and we LOVE these muffins, we make them often) and while we waited for them to bake, they made their own place mats by decorating large pieces of construction paper.  I helped R by cutting her paper into the shape of a butterfly.

After they finished decorating, I covered both sides of the mats with contact paper to make them more durable.  People always ask me what contact paper is, so while I'm thinking about it...contact paper is shelf liner, you want to buy the clear kind to use for crafts.  You can find it at WalMart, Target, grocery stores, and probably plenty of other places.  I always have it on hand because we use it often! 

The Fancy Nancy ideas were well received by R (no surprise there)!

Doilies made our table look a little fancier, and the raspberry swirls looked and tasted great.

To make the Fancy Nancy raspberry swirls, you just cut the crusts off a piece of bread and roll it flat between wax paper.

Spread raspberry jam (we used Polaner all fruit) over the bread, roll it into a log, and cut into slices.

I was very happy to see that the strawberries and nectarine slices I put out were eaten quickly!  Funny thing, I offered C and R the same strawberries and nectarines earlier in the morning and they were not interested.  Once I put them out as part of our tea party, they ate all of them!

Just to set the record straight, R asked for a tea party, but C insisted that he was attending a picnic, not a tea party.  R and I drank tea, C drank water!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ice Cream in Pajamas!

Believe it or not, going for ice cream while wearing pajamas is one of the activities on our summer bucket list.  C and R found out that Grandma Susan and her three sisters used to go out for ice cream in their pajamas when they were little, and they have been asking to do this for a while now.  Well, we finally took them out for ice cream in their pajamas and we have pictures to prove it!

I know someone will ask, so NO, my husband and I did not wear pajamas. 

Community Helpers

I hosted story hour at the coffee shop yesterday, and our theme was community helpers.  We focused mostly on police and firefighters but we did talk about other people who help us in the community.

I read three books:  Firefighters to the Rescue by Kersten Hamilton, Police Officers On Patrol by Kersten Hamilton, and Whose Hat Is This?  by Sharon Katz Cooper.

For the craft, I gave each child a boy or girl cardstock cutout and they could choose between a firefighter helmet or a police hat.  They decorated the firefighters and police officers with markers and glued on the hats.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homemade Play Dough Cookies

C and R really enjoyed Mmm, Cookies! by Robert Munsch.  In this book, the main character makes play dough cookies and tricks his parents into eating them.  The parents warn his teacher and she knows exactly what to do!

After reading this book, we had to make play dough cookies, of course.  I used red and blue food coloring and almond extract in my homemade play dough.  C and R decorated the "cookies" with sequins.

They begged me to REALLY eat the cookies, but I was only willing to pretend!

The play dough recipe I use is:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
1 T. cooking oil
1 T. cream of tartar
1 c. water
1 t. extract (this varies on the season or whatever I have on hand, but I have used peppermint, vanilla, lemon, coconut, almond, and maple); you can also use spices (I like to use pumpkin pie spice in the fall)
1 t. glitter (optional)
food coloring (optional)

I measure the ingredients into a nonstick pot and stir until well mixed.  Then I cook it over medium heat until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball.  I dump it out onto a cutting board and once it is cool enough to touch, I knead it until smooth.

 I am linking this post to stArt at A Mommy's Adventures.  Hop on over there for more fun book projects!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pemigewasset River

My favorite part of our New Hampshire vacation was the time we spent climbing and hopping across the rocks in the Pemigewasset River.  I have to give my husband credit for this because it is certainly not something I would try without him.

Who needs a plastic toy phone, when you can chat and text via rock phone?

R was playing the role of The Little Mermaid.

Some fool decided to throw a huge chunk of metal in the river.  So annoying.

I took so many pictures of this excursion; it really was a lot of fun.  T, C, and R are great rock hoppers! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lost River - New Hampshire

The powerful forces of water, wind, weather and time worked together to create Lost River.  We love to follow Lost River as it appears and disappears through the narrow steep-walled gorge, the tumbled granite crevasses, caverns and falls.  Lost River is always on our to do list when we visit New Hampshire.

Here is T entering the Lemon Squeezer.  There is a gauge at the entrance of the cave for people to try before attempting to enter the cave.  I was the only one who did not go through the Lemon Squeezer.  I can fit, but claustrophobia won and I backed out in a state of panic. 

We had a great time crawling through some interesting caves.  The views are spectacular too!