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Posted by on Jan 3, 2017 | 0 comments

Writing Messages with Fireworks

Writing Messages with Fireworks

Our friends, Rachel and John and their three kids came to visit for New Year’s Eve bearing sparklers that they picked up at a roadside firework stand. Rachel mentioned her idea of writing words or “2017” for the New Year with the sparklers and taking photos using a technique where you slow down the camera shutter speed in order to capture the number or letter shapes. The activity is really fun and the results truly spectacular. We realize sparklers are illegal, but we supervised the kids closely and trained them on safety. We read a tip about using a flashlight to illuminate the subject’s face to make it easier to focus the camera. When you don’t have a powerful flash, on a phone camera say, the flashlight also helps you take photos in the dark in general. We then got the kids to stand side by side so they could practice writing and I could try different manual settings on my camera. I knew that in order to blur...

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Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 | 1 comment

3 Healthy (& Yummy) Recipes for Kids

3 Healthy (& Yummy) Recipes for Kids

When the school year starts, I like to revisit some of my tried-and-true recipes that sneak veggies into my kids’ lunches. These are all pretty easy to make, with or without your kids’ participation, and are healthy and delicious in lunches…or anytime! Corn, cucumber, and bean salad This is one I just made the other day. I started with 2-3 cups of frozen corn that I microwaved with a dash of salt until thawed. I then opened a can of black beans and rinsed them in a strainer. Diced a medium-sized cucumber… Tossed the three main ingredients together and then squeezed lots of lime juice in – almost two whole limes worth. That’s it! Of course, you could add cilantro to the salad or other ingredients, but my kids like it very simple. Sweet potato muffins The main attraction in this recipe are two baked sweet potatoes which you can prepare ahead. Justine used honey instead of sugar. She added molasses too, which adds some valuable vitamins and minerals...

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Posted by on Sep 2, 2016 | 4 comments

Girls in the Alexandria Little League

Girls in the Alexandria Little League

I loved the moment when my 8-year-daughter Nadja told me she wanted to play baseball, and I didn’t hesitate for a moment with the answer, “yes, absolutely you can!” instead of letting her down with “only boys play baseball.” It’s become something we’re now accustomed to – seeing boys and girls alike playing sports like soccer, baseball, swimming, and gymnastics –  looking equally adorable in their uniforms. Nonetheless, on Alexandria Little League Baseball teams, you don’t see many girls on the teams. You can count the number of girls who play on one hand. Curiously, this is true, even though Little League Baseball has been required to admit girls since 1974, and the Little League estimates that hundreds of thousands of girls have played Little League Baseball since then. (They don’t keep exact statistics.) Over the years, most girls in general have chosen to sign up for Little League Softball. The girls who have played Little League Baseball have proven their mettle though – up to 2014, 18 girls...

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Posted by on Aug 24, 2016 | 2 comments

Kelly’s House of Murals

Kelly’s House of Murals

Kelly grew up in a house decorated with her mother’s hand-painted murals. Today, in her Del Ray home, she’s continuing the tradition. I stopped by to see these special murals painted by Kelly’s mother (you may remember this house from the Del Ray House & Garden Tour this year, or the previous tour in 2014). There’s a splendid mural of blue sky and clouds on the ceiling of the front porch. The other two murals are in the two kids’ rooms. This one pays homage to a children’s book author and illustrator that Kelly loved as a child, Gyo Fujikawa. Kelly’s mom added Superwoman, one of her daughter’s favorite super heroes, into the design. Kelly’s son’s room has been transformed into a scene from outer space, complete with flying spaceships. I can only imagine how much he and his sister love their rooms and will grow to appreciate their grandmother’s artistic talent all their...

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Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 | 0 comments

Refreshing Summer Shrubs for All Ages

Refreshing Summer Shrubs for All Ages

The shrub, the tangy syrup made from fruit that’s mildly fermented in vinegar, is usually mentioned as a cocktail mix, but it’s also great on its own mixed with seltzer water and lots of crushed ice. Justine and I made some with help from our kids and then offered them some refreshing mocktails to enjoy on a hot summer evening. You can make shrubs a few different ways: Katie made cranberry shrub in one go, without fermenting the fruit. She made a strawberry shrub in a similar way. For our part, we made the shrub over two weekends. On the first day, we started with nectarines, peaches, and sour cherries I had been saving the freezer. While sterilizing the mason jars, we peeled and sliced the fruit. The girls filled up the jars with the fruit… Meanwhile, we heated up the distilled white vinegar almost to boiling and then filled up the jars with the hot vinegar just about to the top, wiped off the lids and capped the...

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