Monday Fun Day

Yesterday, the three of us took a little day trip to Flagstaff.  We rode the Scenic Chairlift up Arizona Snowbowl and were met with amazing views at 11,500 feet. The ride is 30 minutes each way and well worth the trip.  We got off at the top to do some exploring and take in the views that only double black diamond skiers get to see in the winter months (that would NOT be me). With temperatures over 105 at home, the 60 degrees at the top was a welcome change.

After our morning at the top, we headed east to see the 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep Meteor Crater. It was pretty impressive as well and worth a stop if you’re near the area.

It was a great way to spend a weekday off right before school starts.  On Thursday, we will have a Kindergartener in the house!

Flagstaff

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Happy Independence Day, U.S.A.

FotorCreatedI love the 4th of July.  Combine that with a cloudy, rainy day yesterday and it called for a day of festive craftiness.

1. Stenciling stars and fireworks with sidewalk chalk.  With the intermittent rain, we chose to do this under the eaves of our front walk.

2. A paint by numbers American flag.  Once the paint was dry, she added a texture element with matching tissue pieces. She loves to wrap the tissue around the tip of an eraser and stick it on with glue.

For those of you who live here in the U.S., we wish you a safe and happy holiday!

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Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

_DSC4460Scavenger hunts are a really great way to entertain kids and…well…let’s face it, I enjoy them, too!  Two years ago, we were searching for hidden letters and numbers and finding objects around the house that matched a colored piece of paper.  This year, armed with new skills in letter sounds and sight words, we found objects around the house that begin with each letter of the alphabet.  Then, taking it up a notch, we practiced writing the word of each object on her dry erase board.

_DSC4464 _DSC4463With some of the more difficult letters like ‘Q’ and ‘X’, I gave hints and had her figure them out.  I really loved watching her get excited as she ran out of the room exclaiming, “Oh, I know something!” I also enjoyed seeing what she would bring back, for it was often something I never thought of.  For example, for the letter ‘V’ she brought back a bag of carrots and said, “vegetables”.

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We spent over an hour with this activity and she was engaged the entire time.  It is simple to do and can be played inside or outside. I truly love a scavenger hunt’s versatility and fun for all ages.

What is one of your favorite scavenger hunts?

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Bringing the outdoors in

With the usual hot temperatures hanging around outside, I decided to keep things interesting this week by bringing the outdoor feel inside.  For a family who likes to be outside more than not, creativity is a must to get through the summer months here.

For dinner one night last week, we spread out a blanket on the living room floor and feasted, picnic-style, on hot dogs, baked beans and tomatoes. It was like we were camping with a TV and without bugs… next stop, imagination station.

_DSC4458On Saturday night, we pulled out the Aerobed and had a movie night/sleepover. I’m really not sure why we haven’t done this since Christmas because it’s so much fun and takes very little effort. It’s especially worth doing while we have a great snuggler in our midst.  I mean, who can resist that precious face? I know I can’t, even when I had a couple limbs thrown at my head and multiple blanket adjustments throughout the night. Ah, motherhood._DSC4468

Of course, with a movie night comes homemade popcorn, and I found this really good popcorn seasoning that is worth trying.  I made extra to have on hand the next time we make popcorn because it was a hit in this family.

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HOMEMADE POPCORN SEASONING

Ingredients:

4 T celery salt (Here is how to make your own celery salt.)
4 T dried parsley flakes
6 t garlic powder
6 t salt (I recommend Real Salt.)
6 t ground summer savory (can try subbing thyme, but it will be a tad stronger)
2 t dried marjoram
2 t dried thyme
1 t pepper
1 t turmeric
1 t ground sage

Directions:

Combine all in a small bowl.  Store in glass or plastic container with a tight fitting lid.  Stir or shake occasionally before use to redistribute ingredients.  Simply sprinkle on top of freshly popped popcorn and enjoy!

How was your weekend? 

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Artwork with Kids: Exploring Pointillism

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One of my favorite paintings is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. It’s a large painting housed in the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting technique he uses is called pointillism or, in the case of a 5-year-old, dot paint.

As a fun way to introduce kids to the technique of pointillism and, let’s face it, fun with Q-tips, I found this great activity at Inner Child Fun. I set out the paints, brushes, Q-tips, paper and glue. I briefly explained the project and let her go on her way.

_DSC4446First, she used some scrap paper of various colors and glued them to the base sheet.  Then she used both the tips of paint brushes and Q-tips to create her dots.  Q-tips were her favorite tool because “they make big dots”.  I even sat down with her and created by own – I can’t resist a little afternoon of painting.

_DSC4452I really enjoyed watching her creative juices flow with her use of various colors and patterns, and, most importantly, she had a blast with this fun, simple project. Now it holds center position in her bedroom artwork display.

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A masterpiece

_DSC4418This is the spot where she would go each day after school for an entire week.  Sometimes daddy and I would join her to contribute to the mural, but mostly it was her masterpiece.  Had she been given the opportunity, we would have had a completely redesigned patio floor that would have made Gustav Klimt proud.

But the not-so-funny thing about chalk is it washes away.  When the time came to wash down the patio furniture, my little Gustav’s work went right along with the dust and dirt.  There were tears and exclamations of, “But I worked so hard on that!” I explained that the great thing about chalk art is you get to wipe the slate clean and start a new masterpiece.  In truth, her statement stabbed at my heart and my words were only a facade to hide that fact.  She did, indeed, work very hard on it, and in her mind, it wasn’t just the color that was washed away – it was her time, her efforts, her pride in her work. It was something she looked forward to coming home to every day.  I wish I would have seen that before I turned the nozzle on the hose, but as with chalk art, we’ll do it different next time.

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Summer Bliss: Frozen Hot Chocolate

Frozen Hot ChocolateThis oxymoron-titled beverage is nothing new to the Pinterest and blogosphere, so I’m here to tell you if you haven’t tried it yet, now is the perfect time to whip some up on a nice warm (or hot in our case) summer day.

There are many takes on this chocolatey, iced-cold goodness, but the one we gave a try was from Tasty Kitchen.  My 5-year-old daughter did most of the work, adding and blending the ingredients, so it was really easy to make.  If you’re like us and don’t have a double-broiler, a microwave-safe glass bowl sitting over a pot of boiling water works just fine. The photos above show the process starting in the upper left corner and working clockwise. It was a delicious way to close out a hot day, particularly after a really healthy kale salad dinner, ahem. Next time we’ll add whipped cream and chocolate chips on the top, although it’s still great without the added calories.  Enjoy!

FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
  • 1 package Hot Cocoa Mix (about 3 Tablespoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • ⅓ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • ⅓ cups White Chocolate Chips
  • 12 ounces, fluid Can Evaporated Milk, Divided
  • 4-½ cups Ice
  • Whipped Cream, To Taste
  • Mini Marshmallows, To Taste

Preparation

Combine sugar, cocoa mix, and butter in the top of a double boiler that is set over gently boiling water. Stir often until melted and a smooth paste forms. Add semi-sweet & white chocolate chips; stir. When chips begin to melt, slowly stir in 1/2 cup of evaporated milk. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Combine the chocolate base mixture, the remaining evaporated milk and ice in a blender (you can do this in batches) and cover. Blend until smooth. Pour into frosty glasses. Top each with whipped cream. Sprinkle with additional chopped chocolate chips & mini marshmallows, if desired.

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