Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Happy National Watermelon Day!

It's August 3rd - time to celebrate National Watermelon Day!

Here are a few suggestions for celebrating:

Try carving your watermelon. Craftjr has a great roundup of watermelon carving ideas,
including this cute watermelon smiley face.

image via Craft Gossip

When I was young, my grandma would make these watermelon popsicles - 
easy and delicious on a hot summer day. Learn how to from Family Fun.

One of our favorite recipes this summer has been Watermelon Sorbet.
You can find the recipe here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Celebrate Picnic Day

It's Picnic Day in Australia today.
 picnic basket available here.

Here are some great ways for you to celebrate:

How about a Popsicle Picnic?

 image and idea via design sponge

I love this meal in a jar from Giver's Log

image and idea via Giver's Log

This Indian Summer Celebration over at Cheeky Kitchen looks like fun,
and could be celebrated anytime during the summer. 

image and idea via Cheeky Kitchen

What are your favorite picnic ideas or places for picnics?

Walk Portland

Today we're going to be taking a field trip with Peter's Walking Tours. Former schoolteacher Peter Chausse has been leading  guided walking tours around Portland since 1995. He leads tours through Central Portland, the Pearl, a Twilight Bridge Tour and more. Today we'll be going on his Family Fountain Tour, which takes you to at least 5 of Portland's Fountains, with time for the kids to stop and play at each one, including our favorite at Jamison Square.

 image via Poshbaby
For more info, visit www.walkportland.com

Happy Ice Cream Sandwich Day

It's hard to believe that August is already upon us. Where has the summer gone?  Today we're celebrating National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.

We made these simply by sandwiching some vanilla ice cream between chocolate chip cookies and coating the edges with sprinkles.

Here are a few more easy recipes:

If it's too hot to bake today, just add some ice cream between Oreo Cookies like this:

 Idea and photo from One Charming Party via Gordon Gossip

Or try this recipe with toasted coconut.

And another version made with Rice Krispie Treats.

Here's a great way to dress up the store bought version.

Over at Amazon.com  you can buy these darling ice cream sandwich molds:

 Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Look Up!

Today marks the 41st Anniversary of man first setting foot on the moon.

And here are some out-of-this-world ways we've come up with to celebrate:

Read: Mission Control, This is Apollo to learn more about the astronauts.

Another good book on the topic includes:  What is the Moon Made Of? And Other Questions Kids Have About Space by Donna H. Bowman. And for toddlers and preschoolers, check out our family's favorite by Dan Yaccarino, Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm off the the Moon.

Bake your own Crater Cake. You can find the recipe here.

Snack Idea: Cut out some Swiss Cheese into circles and put them on round crackers for moon-faced snack.

Stargaze: Head outside tonight and see how many constellations you can find. Click here for a July skymap. 

Space Out: Learn how real scientists study the planets by visiting the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's online Cyber Center here.

Create your own Moon Notebook. On clear nights, draw a picture of the moon and write the date and time next to each picture. As time passes, your kids will see the moon in all of its phases. You can download your own chart here

Moon Trivia: Did you know that the moon is so far away, that if you were driving there in a car, it would take more than 6 months to reach it?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere

One of our very favorite things to do in the summer is blowing bubbles. Following are some of the best bubble ideas we've found for kids of every age.

A few years back we discovered Betz White's "Super Foam-erator". They're quick and easy to make - you just need an empty water bottle, a scrap of terry cloth and some dish soap.

 You can find the complete directions can be found here.

I also came across this post on making Gigantic Bubbles with things like Hula Hoops and coat hangers.

Their secret for such durable bubbles is glycerine, which can be found at most any pharmacy.

For something new this summer, we're going to trying these Dry Ice Giant Bubbles from Geek Dad:

Over at Ohdeedoh, they shared 9 recipes for your own bubble solution. And here's our family favorite:

You can download and print your own copy here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stargaze with your Kids

image via pacsci.org

This is the perfect time of year to gather your family and a blanket and head out for some stargazing. Here are some great tips to get you started:

First you need to find a good location. This could easily be your own backyard, but if you live near bright city lights, this might mean waiting for a long weekend in the country or the woods. Once you've seen the stars away from the city, you'll realize that what a difference it makes. 

If your kids are old enough, grab a few constellation charts and try to find them. If stargazing seems like a hobby your family enjoys, you might want to consider investing in a decent telescope so you can actually see some of the planets or the craters on the moon. A good way to check this out is by attending a Star Party - these are events held around the country by local amateur astronomers that allow you to "test drive" their equipment before you buy your own. We had a great time last summer out at the OMSI/Rose City Astronomers Star Party at Rooster Rock. We'll never forget seeing the rings of Saturn up close.

Once you've gone stargazing, you can continue to foster an interest by:


    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Berry Picking Time

    Today we visited our favorite place, Kruger's Farm on Sauvie Island, for some berry picking.

    Contrary to some local news reports, the fields were full of strawberries and raspberries. Blueberries, blackberries and marionberries should be ripe by July 4th.

    I first read about this farm several years ago while living in Minneapolis and it was one of the first spots we visit ed when we moved to the Northwest. It instantly became a family favorite and we've returned many times since.  (Trust me, if they can get my city kids to want to hang out at their farm, they're doing something right.)

    Our favorite thing is their summer concert series. They've got concerts every Thursday evening throughout the summer (just $10 per carload.) In addition to great live music, they're are hayrides and the fields are open for berry picking. It's the perfect spot for a picnic or you can buy food there. They've got delicious burgers, roasted corn and now a wood-fired pizza oven.

    If you want to pick berries yourself, check out www.PickYourOwn.org for a list of all the farms near you. They've got a comprehensive list for the entire US.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Summer Rules

     image via Jacky's blog

    We've still got one more day until we dive head first into Summer Vacation, but after reading this and this, I was inspired to come up with a few Summer Rules to keep our home running smoothly over the next few months. Our summer routine is pretty relaxed around here, but a little structure is good for everyone too, especially for a family with a work-at-home mom.

    Our kids are getting older (now 7 and 10) and are becoming more independent and able to entertain themselves, but it can also be a bit too easy for them to just lay on the couch and watch Spongebob and eat popsicles all day.  

    Here are a few rules that we've come up with - daily reading, at least one hour spent outside daily, screen time limits for tv and computer (this means mom and dad too), family walks or bike rides after dinner and mom gets one hour of time for work each day.

    Do you have any "summer rules" for your family?

    Glad Midsommar!

    Having Scandinavian roots, I love the celebration of Midsommer. In Scandinavia, it's one of the most popular holidays, right up there with Christmas.  You can learn more about the celebration here, here, and here.

    In Sweden, houses are decorated inside and out with wreaths and flower garlands. Then they dance around the decorated midsummer pole while listening to traditional folk songs.

     image via huset-shop.com

    The celebration of Midsummer  also includes bonfires, and divining the future, especially one's future spouse. On Midsummer Eve, young girls pick seven types of flower to place under their pillows when they go to sleep in the belief that they will dream of their future love. 

    If you live in the Portland area, check out Saturday's Midsummer Festival at the German American Cultural Center. There's something for everyone in the family -  food, crafts, music, Viking reenactments, and dancing around the Maypole. We went last year and had a wonderful time.


    Glad Midsommar!

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Summer Reading

    On this day back in 1938, the very first Caldecott Medal was awarded to Animals of the Bible by Dorothy P. Lathrop. The Caldecott Medal has been awarded annually ever since by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published that year. It was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. We've come up with 10 ideas for ways to celebrate this day.

    1.) Read a book from the list of former winners. This year's winner is The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

    Other former winners that are favorites in our family are:

    Flotsam by David Wiesner - a great read,
    especially if you're planning a trip to the beach this summer.

    And The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

    The illustrations in this book are absolutely amazing.
    Martin Scorsese is currently working on the film version of it.
    You can find more activities related to this book, including the film that inspired it here.

    2. Sign up for your local public library's summer reading program. (For those of you here in SW Washington, click here for more info.) We've been doing this with our kids since they could first walk and they always look forward to it.  Our public library also provides great FREE summer entertainment, including Mad Science, jugglers and our favorite, the Creature Feature.

    3.) Sign up for Barnes & Noble's Passport to Summer Reading program. Click here to download your passport. After your child reads eight books they can turn in their passport for a FREE book. 

    4.) Sign up for Border's Double Dog Dare Summer Reading Program. Click here for more details. After your child reads ten books, they get a FREE book. 

    5.) Print out some FREE bookplates by artist Helen Dardik and let you kids put them in their books. She's kindly offered four different designs, including this one. Just click here and here

    6.) For some great summer reading suggestions for your kids, check out Read Kiddo Read, a site created by author James Patterson, dedicated to creating readers for life. They've compiled lists for kids of all ages.

    7.) If you've got a boy in your house, check out Guys Read, for some great reading ideas for him.

    8.) How about starting a Mother-Daughter Book Club? You can read more about one mom's experiences here

    9.) Buy some great book related art for your kids' rooms, like this print from Studio Mela's Etsy Shop.

    You can find more great reading related prints here, via Oh Dee Doh.

    Or commission a custom painting of your child's bookshelf by artist, Jane Mount.

    10.) Let your kids become book reviewers. Just print out these bookmarks and let your kids fill in the blanks for each book they read. Click here to download your own.

    What's on your kids' summer reading lists this summer? 

    How do you encourage your kids to read during the summer months?

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Be a Part of the Food Revolution

     Have you joined Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution yet?  He has recently begun an initiative to save cooking skills and improve school food. You can learn more and sign the petition here.

    Jamie's got some great ideas for getting your kids more involved in meal preparation. You'll find easy, cheap, fun recipes and how to videos so you can cook along with Jamie. Click here to download their tool kits and start having fun with your kids in the kitchen.

    Get Outdoors

    Saturday is National Get Outdoors Day - an annual event created to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun. Participating partners will be offering opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities. You can just go to this page and look for their site locations. They've got over 90 events scheduled around the country tomorrow. Our family will be heading over to the Water Resource Center in Vancouver.

    It's also Free Fishing Days here in WA and OR. This means that no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing.   It also looks like a number of other states are offering a FREE fishing day the 2nd Saturday in June (tomorrow), so make sure to check the list of states offering FREE fishing days.

    What else can you do today?

    Have a Family Movie Night and watch E.T. It premiered back on this day in 1982. I can still remember watching it at the Drive In, from the back of my family's station wagon. For more ideas, check out the recommendations from Kids Off the Couch. (If you haven't heard of Kids Off the Couch before, go sign up for their weekly newsletter. They offer a free, weekly, fun filled, film-related adventure that shows parents how to connect families to each other and the world around them.)

      Today over at Craft Camp at Skip to My Lou, you can learn how to make a Friendship Bracelet.

    image via Skip to My Lou

     Head on over to Cascadia Kids and enter to win an overnight trip in Portland. (Our family recently won their Seattle contest and we can't wait to go.)

    What are your family's plans for the weekend?

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Collecting Postcards

    At our house, we love to collect things from our vacations. We collect Christmas ornaments, refrigerator magnets, snow globes and floaty pens. A few years ago, after reading an article in Family Fun magazine, we decided to attempt to collect postcards from each of the fifty states. Thanks to family, friends, our own travels and the kindness of strangers, we've managed to collect a postcard from forty states plus numerous foreign countries.

    The other day I came across postcrossing - a postcard exchange project that invites everyone to send and receive postcards from random places around the world. For free! We're mailing our first postcard to Thailand today and are anxious to see where our first postcard will come from.

    Pip from Meet Me at Mike's also has a list of 20 Ways to be a Good Penpal.

    image and kit via All This is Mine

    You can find  her complete list here.

    What does your family like to collect?


    Today we've got two great reasons to celebrate. First off, did you know it's National Iced Tea Day?  If it wasn't so cold and rainy here today, I think I'd be sitting on my front porch sipping a tall glass of this delicious iced tea. Instead I'm here with a cup of hot tea. Oh well, a girl can dream.

    You can get more Iced Tea recipes here. Or try the Perfect Arnold Palmer (parents only!).

    Snapple invites you to celebrate with a Buy One/Get One Free offer. Get your coupon here

    It's also Judy Garland's Birthday today. How about celebrating with a family viewing of The Wizard of Oz.

    And wouldn't this be the perfect birthday cake in honor of Judy?

    You can find the recipe and how to here on Whisk Kid.

    If that's a little too ambitious, how about these rainbow cupcakes from Skip to My Lou.

    And did you know that you can make your very own ruby slippers?

    Mary Janes & Galoshes will show you how to right here with her 59 cent shoe makeover.