The trees in our backyard are dropping pinecones at a dangerous rate. Little pinecone missiles have been falling almost constantly for the past two weeks. Between the pinecone land mines and all the tree sap on our deck, one of these days my toddlers will learn to appreciate shoes.
However, in the meantime, I’ll keep scrubbing their feet each night, and we’ll do pinecone crafts during the day.
We’ve found that you can stack the big female cones almost like LEGOs. You can also add construction paper and turn the cones into silly animals:
But we probably had the most fun just painting them and adding wiggly eyes.
In the end they kind of reminded me of the Yip Martians from Sesame Street:
We put them out in the garden. I wish I could say they were defending us from slugs and snails (they aren’t!). But they are sort of cute.
I’d better watch myself or I’ll start collecting lawn gnomes and plastic flamingos next.
It’s been a busy week, and tonight I’m headed to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Oregon Conference.
Writing conferences rock. I love chatting with people who feel passionately about oxford commas and third-person-single-reference narration. Plus, SCBWI always brings in fabulous keynote speakers.
The theme for this weekend is Wagons Ho! On the Publishing Trail, so I’ll leave you today with a cowboy coloring page and poem:
Happy trails, buckaroos!
You don’t need a popcorn machine or expensive prepackaged bags to make popcorn at home. All you need are popcorn kernels (I buy them in bulk for super cheap) and a paper lunch bag.
It’s soooo easy. Just take a handful of kernels (about 1/4 a cup) and pour them into the bag. Fold the top of the bag three or four times and cook them in the microwave until the pops are one second apart. The “popping time” will vary depending on your microwave’s power. For my microwave 1 min and 30 seconds is the perfect time. DO NOT USE THE POPCORN BUTTON.
Lightly Buttered Popcorn: Before placing the bag in the microwave, drop a pat of butter into the bag with the kernels. Most of the butter will end up on the bag, but the popcorn will have a buttery aura. Yum!
Caramel Corn: Melt 2 Tbs of butter and mix in 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Chill the mixture in the fridge until it’s solid (about 30 minutes). Place this with the kernels in the bag and pop for slightly less than the above method. For my microwave this is about 1 minute and 15 seconds. Some kernels will be left unpopped, but if you do it for the full length of time the caramel will burn. If it burns, it will taste very, very bad. When in doubt, under cook it.
Why DIY popcorn?
Making your own microwave popcorn is cheap and easy. Also most prepackaged microwave popcorns contain TBHQ (or a similar preservative). In small doses TBHQ has no observable side effects, but in larger doses it is linked to stomach tumors and all sorts of other nasty stuff.
Will eating a bag of store bought popcorn give you stomach cancer? Probably not. But these added ingredients have no nutritional value and making your own microwave popcorn isn’t any more difficult than throwing a store bought bag in the microwave. So why not skip the mystery ingredients all together?
My family recently visited the California Coastal Redwoods.
Walking among century old trees was a unique experience. It made me feel so very small and yet large with wonder.
One of the things that touched me during our trip was this: without the diligent work of a few passionate individuals most of these trees might have been lost to logging and development. In the picture above, perhaps my boys would have been standing at the drive through of BurgerMart.
A few dedicated people can make a difference in the world, and science is a great way to make that difference. So I put together these life scientist paper dolls about a marine biologist and a botanist visiting the northern California coast.
Of course, no life scientist would be complete without a habitat, so I painted two.
Redwood Forest Habitat (for the botanist):
Northern California Tide Pool (for the marine biologist):
And here are the plant and animal identification coloring pages for these habitats:
I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day. “Habitat, habitat. Have to have a habitat…”
Easter is an important holiday for our family. We like to keep it simple but significant.
But we also like to have fun. We’ve developed a few kids friendly traditions that remind us of the reason for the season.
The first tradition is egg knocking.
My husband first learned this game while serving a mission in Bulgaria. We play it by giving each Easter dinner guest a red hard-boiled egg. The first player says, “He is risen!” To which the second replies, “Yea, verily He is risen!”
Then the two players knock eggs. Only one of the eggs will break. The player with the unbroken egg continues around the table until only one person is left with an unbroken egg.
The last person with the unbroken egg gets the honor of serving up our second Easter tradition– Lamb Cake!
There a little bit of skill and luck involved in winning the egg knocking contest. One year my 28 year-old brother won the prize and the next my three-year-old son won. My three-year-old loooved serving the cake!
- two frozen rectangular pound cakes*
- one unfrosted cupcake
- butter cream frosting
- a bag of miniature marshmallows
- 2 jumbo marshmallow
- 2 M&Ms (for the eyes)
- rope licorice (for the mouth)
- colored sprinkles (for the ears and nose)
*Family-sized pound cake rectangles are available at many stores. If you can’t find them, you can do what I do and bake pound cake in two large bread loaf pans. You need an extra cupcake anyway and baking your own cakes means you can pour the extra batter into cupcakes. BTW, It has to be pound cake, not white cake or chocolate cake, because only pound cake has the structural integrity to make a cake like this (with the odd overhanging piece).