Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Letters to a Home Town - My Tweenager

My Tweenager on a Family Outing
My Daughter the Elder just had a birthday. She turned twelve. It was a pretty standard birthday, but to hear her tell it, it was a life changing event. On that day she was thrust, (or maybe she leapt) over the threshold of childhood. Now she is an almost-but-not-quite-may-as-well-be-close-enough-can’t-you-just-say-I-am-a teen. Apparently being called a tween when you are twelve just isn’t cool.
Not much that I do is cool these days. She lives in perpetual fear that I am going to embarrass her. When she invites friends over she makes me swear that I’ll behave. When the doorbell rings she gives me that look before she answers. She takes phone calls into another room just in case I decide to play the peanut gallery and make comments on the side. I am a high risk of anti-cool.
Now that she is twelve she is making it abundantly clear that if I ever want the chance to hang out with my big girl again, I had better shape up. Peer pressure is not limited to her fellow classmates; she is muscling me. No more fart jokes. Adults aren’t supposed to think those are funny. The wardrobe; it needs some serious adjustments. And just because you know what the Harlem Shake is DOES NOT mean you can demonstrate in public!
There are of course exceptions. It is permissible to hang out at home - when no one else is around, and she isn’t on the phone, or the computer, or tablet. We can go to the store together - as long as I am buying the items of her choosing. And we can do ‘other stuff’ as long as it is far, far, far, far from home so that the chance of bumping into any of her classmates is absolutely nil.
She is, of course, making her own way into awesomeness. At twelve, it is all about the look. She has dipped into the wardrobe that her big brother left behind; freaking the tomboy style. Her short tousled hair now has a red flare thanks to some temporary dye (next week it may be purple or green). Most importantly she now has the ultimate teen accessory; for her birthday she got a phone. (This gift would have elevated me into the ranks of coolness – If I have made it – but I didn’t. The phone came from her dad thus buying him forgiveness for being seen together in public any time soon).
To spite all of the fresh effort being dedicated to cultivating cool, that day when she turned twelve wasn’t the start of it. My Daughter the Elder has been that way for a while now. She likes sushi. She is a purple belt in mixed martial arts. She gives great hugs. And she has a wonderful sense of humor. (Don’t tell anyone but sometimes she even laughs at my fart jokes.)
I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Swiss Chard with Polenta & Egg – A Very CSA Dinner

Our CSA season kicked off this week and our first share featured Swiss chard, garlic scapes and onions. I had tried this recipe with the polenta we got from our winter CSA and some frozen greens so I was excited to change it up and make it with everything super fresh. The results were delicious!
Swiss Chard with Polenta & Egg
The Polenta Part
3/4c Polenta
1c Milk
2c Water
1t Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4c Grated Parmesan Cheese
Bring milk, water and butter to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, then slowly pour in the polenta, stirring briskly so it doesn’t get lumpy. Simmer for about 20min stirring regularly. Add salt, pepper and parmesan cheese in the last few minutes.
The Swiss Chard Part
+/- 1/2lb Swiss Chard Washed with stems removed and ripped up
2 Green Onions chopped
1 or 2 Cloves Garlic (Or a few Garlic Scapes if you are lucky enough to have them) chopped fine
Olive oil or butter for the pan
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sauté onions and garlic, then add in the Swiss chard. Cook until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.
The Egg Part
1 or 2 eggs
Fry sunny side up over low heat with a lid or over easy if you are good at flipping
The Presentation
Stack it all up, starting with the polenta, then chard then egg. Take a picture – because that is what CSA hipster foodies do – or you can skip that step and just enjoy!
Inspired by a recipe on http://www.alexandracooks.com

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sand Paper Castles - Little Kid Art Project

Life has been quite busy lately so I haven't been posting projects as regularly as we have been making them. One project that we did were sand paper castles. The project was a great success so I made sure to snap a few pics. About a week later I saw this Kiwi Crate post... I guess great minds think alike.

Theme: Summer, The Beach, Sand Castles

Book Ideas: A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams, Hamsters to the Rescue by Ellen Stoll Walsh, The Sand Castle Contest by Robert Munsch (older kids)

Heavy Grit Sandpaper (1 sheet should be enough for 4 - 6 kids)
Background Picture (we found this stock pic) or plain paper works too
Glue Stick
Adults and Big Kids get to use Scissors

Prep: If using one, print picture to use as background. Cut sandpaper into simple geometric shapes in a variety of sizes no greater than 3". Be sure to create a few semi-circles for bridges and narrow rectangles for towers.

Activity: Each kid gets a background, a glue stick and several castle pieces. Design your own castle! Does it have a draw bridge? A moat? Towers with high spires? Maybe there is more than one on your beach. Let your inner architect play!

Notes/Tips: Bigger kids can cut their own pieces. This can easily be a scrapbook page project used along with photos from your own day at the beach.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Paper Pig Puppet - Little Kid Project

Paper Pig Puppet
Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Pigs

Books: Pigs to the Rescue by John Himmelman, Happy Pig Day by Mo Willems
Pink Construction Paper
Extra Small Paper Bag (beverage size)
Glue Sticks
Adults get to use Scissors

Prep: From the pink paper cut 2 triangle ears and an oval for a snout. For the hooves cut 4 rectangles about 1” x 2” then add a small notch at the end of each. For the tail use a circle about 1-1/2” cut into a spiral.

Activity: Each child gets a small bag, 2 ears, 4 hooves, a snout and a tail and a glue stick for putting it all together. Once assembled, trade the glue stick for crayons. Add eyes, nostrils, spots, clothes, mud, anything you like. Then it is time for a pig party!

Notes/Tips: Older kids can practice their scissor skills by cutting the pig pieces out themselves. Beverage size paper bags are just the right size for little hands, but you can use lunch size bags too, just make the pig pieces bigger.