Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Fun Club 13

 Summer Fun Club is intended, by definition to be both FUN and EASY.  For our 13th meeting, we had some friends over for a playdate.  But when you have six kids cooped up in one playroom, it can only last so long.  There must be some kind of planned activity.  And you know me.

I made cupcakes.  And let the kids decorate. 

Then instead of washing up, I just put them all in their swimsuits and put them out back with the water table, baby pool and sprinkler ball, and let them have at it.  

Snack was, you guessed it, cupcakes, and then we sent the rest home with them.  Perfect!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Fun Club 12

I just have so many pictures for each SFC, I can't group them in posts!  But this one will be quick, mostly pictures.

So.  You know Queen Anne's Lace?  It's a weedy flower, related to a wild carrot, grows on the side of the road.  One morning last week we pulled over and cut some for that day's Summer Fun Club meeting.

After Poppy was down for her nap, we broke out the food coloring, and made jars of different colored water.  Then we put one flower in each jar.  

Did you ever do this as a child?  So simple and cool.  We discussed very briefly the science here, why we put flowers in water, how they use it, where it goes, etc.  Then we put them on the coffee table and left them for a few days.  (Note for next time: place on a tray on the coffee table - little spills ended up staining.)

Next, we took some thick paper, thick paint, and more Queen Anne's Lace, and did some flower printing.

I'd never done this before and wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it was pretty cool!

Then the colored water reminded me of this Art Tuesday project we did last year, so I got out the coffee filters and mini scone pan, and we did some color dipping.

Two days later, our flowers had started turning the colors of their water.  The turquoise and purple worked the best, followed by orange, green and yellow.  Another day later, the colors were even more vibrant, but they were also falling apart, so we tossed them.  But it was such a fun and fascinating project for the girls, I think we will definitely do that one every summer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Corn Checks

When I was ten, I flew to Oregon all by myself to visit my grandparents for two weeks.  It was the best - onion sandwiches and cream soda for lunch, Grandma's chocolate chip cookies whenever I wanted.  Grandma taught me to embroider and Grandpa taught me gardening.  He had a little cherry tree in the back yard that we pruned and nurtured lovingly together.  And a couple of rows of corn in the empty lot just behind them.

I learned that corn grows fast - it seemed to grow from about knee-high to past my head in the time I was there!  I had to leave before harvest time, but after that trip, and for years to come, Grandpa would call or write to give me updates on our cherry tree and corn "field."  Corn was always my favorite vegetable as a kid.

I still like corn.  Sometimes I even love it.  I have to say this, and write it, because I've been ridiculously called into question on this point.  A long time ago, at Dessert Club, I happened to mention that I don't like corn in sweet settings.  It was an off-hand comment!  But what everyone seemed to hear was, "I don't like corn EVER."  And from that point I've been known as the girl who doesn't like corn.  Even got accused of it by a DC husband.  Not cool. 

It came up again, to my eternal torment, at our last meeting, and I again had to defend myself, "I like corn, I like it!"  Had some really good corn on the cob from a West Virginia farmstand just last weekend, mmm.  But corn, as a sweet-savory vegetable-grain, is as versatile as ingredients come, and, in fact, I don't always like it. 

Today's Washington Post Food Section's feature article is all about this golden treasure of summer.  And reading it through made both my mouth water, and my stomach turn.  What is the deal, I wondered?  Why do I like some corn things and not others?  Is it texture?  Flavor combos?  I feel defensive; I don't want to be known as the girl that doesn't like what is one of my favorite veggies, er, grains.

So I listed things out, from YUM to BLECH, to see what I could see.

Corn on the cob 
Frozen/fresh corn - cooked, on salads, whatever
Tortillas, tortilla chips, Fritos
Cereals: corn flakes, corn pops, Cap'n Crunch, corn chex, etc.
Cornmeal as a dusting, like on pizza crust, English muffins, bread
Pancakes that contain some cornmeal
Corn salsa

It Depends
Canned corn - fine in things, but not alone
Corn bread, corn muffins
Cornmeal crust on pastries
Corn chowder
Corn relish

Corn fritters
Corn cakes

No Thank You
Creamed corn
Mashed corn

Corn ice cream
Corn pudding
Corn caramel custard (like flan)
Corn milk

I guess it's a texture thing - crunch is good, mush is bad.  Savory is better than sweet.  I also guess it's a palate thing - when it comes to corn, I am as complicated as the kernel itself.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Fun Club 11

Anyone remember this post, when I had just gotten a full set of authentic Fashion Plates off eBay, and was more than a little excited about it?  We played with them a little, then I packed them away until the girls were a bit older.  Last week, for Summer Fun Club, I pulled them out again.

I can't remember how old I was when I did these with my sisters.  So I was curious how it would go.  First I had to remember myself how to do them.  Our first round was done with pencil rubbing, and they worked, but were very...gray.

I was trying to think how we got just the outline, so you could color the clothes in using the pattern plates on the flip side.  Unwrapped crayons, pressed and swiped.  In our case, we used Cray-Pas, my very favorite children's art supply.  Vibrant.  Perfect.

So many combinations to choose from...

I thought we might hang our creations on the wall, or if I really got ambitious, frame some to hang in the hall.  But the girls had other plans.  They cut them out and named them...

...and turned them into paper dolls!

Which they played with the rest of that afternoon, and for several days after.  And if they ever get lost, or torn, well, we can just make more.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Fun Club 10

 I recently read Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman.  And since I'll probably never get around to writing a proper review, I'll give my two-cent version here.  I liked it.  It was a good, and fun, read - don't know when I last, if ever, actually finished a parenting book, but this was like half-memoir, part parenting, part cultural study.  I at times felt self-conscious, but never actually bad, about my own parenting, so that helped me get through It certainly gave me some food for thought, and I found bits of wisdom here and there that I would like to adopt and integrate into our own admittedly-American family.  In particular, back freaking off and give the kids some autonomy.  Sage, indeed!

So that's what we did for Summer Fun Club one day last week.  Ginger was on a special trip with Ed, so it was just us three girls.  In Bébé, Druckerman tells how French families seem to bake together every weekend, and how French children can bake many things on their own, particularly a Gâteau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake.)  Hmpf.  Not to be outdone by any Frenchie dans la cuisine, and already a little ashamed that I haven't taught my girls more about baking, I decided my 7-year-old can absolutment make a cake that apparently any French 3-year-old can whip up.

I helped by laying out ingredients and equipment, and offering tips as we went, but Hazel made this cake entirely, from start to finish, by herself, with a little "help" from Poppy.


Eggs - she's so careful with the shells!






Baking Powder

Add dry ingredients

Chocolate Chips


Clean up
See this post for the full recipe and pictures of the finished Gâteau!
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