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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 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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Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 | 1 comment

Rainbow Waffles

Rainbow Waffles

My 12-year-old daughter Ana and a few of her friends took over our kitchen on a recent snow day to make rainbow waffles. They agreed wholeheartedly to document the process. Today, we welcome Ana, Bea, Gigi and Lucy as our guest bloggers. The tools you will need are: 8 small bowls 3 large bowls 6 spoons A whisk A spatula 6 zip-loc bags or 6 piping bags 1 waffle iron The ingredients you will need are: (Recipe source: True Belgian Waffles Recipe) 2 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 2 large eggs, separated 1-1/2 cups milk 1 cup butter, melted 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue food coloring Cooking spray Note: In our picture it shows sea salt, but we will not be using that. Directions 1. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. 2. In two small bowls, separate the 2 eggs and mix the yolk well. 3. In the other large bowl, add egg yolks, and then...

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Posted by on Jan 21, 2016 | 0 comments

Marvelous Musically Themed Paper Snowflakes

Marvelous Musically Themed Paper Snowflakes

I’ve always made paper snowflakes by randomly cutting shapes into folded paper. But recently, my friend Lisa showed me this book she picked up from the City Museum of St. Louis that walks you through the steps to make fabulous snowflakes with a musical theme. One Sunday afternoon, she invited a few friends and their kids over to make a mess of snowflakes together. Lisa tried out this technique during a hands-on workshop in St. Louis with the author of the book Marion Nichols, fondly known there as the “Snowflakey Lady.” You start out folding the paper in a certain way and then you cut out a complex shape, so that when you open the snowflake, you see a repeating motif, like this trombone… and this trumpet. We quickly got the hang of folding the paper by following the clear illustrations in the book. Lisa displayed all of the unique snowflakes that everyone cut out on her windows, making for a delightful winter exhibit to enjoy inside and out....

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Posted by on Dec 17, 2015 | 0 comments

World Peace Paper Mâché Ornaments

World Peace Paper Mâché Ornaments

I love making holiday ornaments by hand and this year was no exception. My daughter Nadja’s Montessori school had the opportunity to decorate one of the Del Ray Christmas trees, so we chose to make paper mâché ornaments in the theme of world peace. To make enough for an entire tree took days, but you could easily make one or a few in a couple of hours. To make the ornaments, we blew up a balloon to the size we wanted, tied it off, and then used Mod Podge to layer strips of newspaper all over the balloon. We made a mix of small and large ornaments. When the balloon was completely covered with newspaper and a generous coating of Mod Podge, we set it in a small pot to dry in front of a portable heater. (If you do this, be careful not to put the balloon too close to the heat or the balloon will expand and bulge through the newspaper.) After this first layer dried, we started...

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