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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Slow Down for Summer: Fun and Simple Outdoor and Seasonal Activities

I had such a great time on the Slow Down for Summer webinar that I did with KaBOOM! and with the many participants. We shared tons of Slow Summer ideas that emphasized fun and ease over equipment and preparation. These include old-school playground games that are ripe for a comeback and can be played most anywhere, crafts to get you outside on a nice summer day, activities to help kids observe and enjoy their surroundings (be they nature or city), and garden and harvest projects to help kids appreciate the cycles of nature and of life. There was so much information and so many wonderful ideas, that we just skimmed the surface in the time allotted. I think it got everyone thinking about the possibilities for wonder and fun and how to create more of each in their everyday lives. I know I came away with some great ideas!

You can visit the webinar anytime to get an idea of some of the things we discussed. And, of course, many of them can be found on my blog, on in future blog posts, as well as in my upcoming book, Fed up With Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World.

Enjoy your Slow Summer!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also like:

Make this Easy Tie Dye Project
Loom and Finger Weaving
11 Ways to Make Gardening Extra Fun for Kids
How to Save Nasturtium and Other Seeds
Blueberry Tuesday: Summer Triple Berry Crisp

Photo Friday: County Fair Pig Race

My family has attended the Sonoma-Marin Fair for as long as we’ve been in this area, nearly 20 years. We’ve visited many other county fairs and even the wonderful California State Fair, but this local, medium-sized one remains our favorite. We love visiting the animals, and the food and craft exhibits, riding our favorite rides. We slowed down a little on the games, not because they’re not fun, but because we already have a ton of stuffed animals. Our new favorite event is a relatively new addition — the Pig Race. The Hambone Express, an outfit out of Arkansas, races little pigs in groups of four around a small track, announcing their names, which are all puns on famous people — Christina Hogulera, Lindsay Loham. Good country fun, this fair never fails to signal the start of our summer.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer fun!

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also enjoy:

This Moment: County Fair Funnel Cake Eating Contest

I have photographed our lovely fair a lot. Last year I did a 3-part series:

Sonoma-Marin Fair: The Animals
Sonoma-Marin Fair: The Food
Sonoma-Marin Fair: The Rides and Games

 

Great American Backyard Campout is Sat. June 25

The Great American Backyard Campout is scheduled for Saturday, June 25. According to sponsors National Wildlife Federation, people register to camp outside June 25, or a night of their choosing. You can register at the NWF site, which offers opportunities to join a group campsite, share camping tips and stories, or donate to the cause of getting more people outside in nature (this is optional). Campgrounds, backyards, balconies all work, say the organizers, who hope the event, like past Campouts, will inspire more people to get outdoors and experience sleeping under the stars.

You may know that we sometimes pitch a tent on our deck or in a treehouse. Kari Svenneby of Active Kids Club shares her tale of balcony camping.

You can register for the Great American Backyard Campout here. Looking for fun things to do outdoors? Try these Seven Things to Do After Dark.

And, of course, you’ll want to make s’mores, the gooey outdoor treat that first appeared in the 1927 Girl Scout Handbook, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, which coincided with the beginning of mass-produced graham crackers and chocolate bars.

You’ll need:

1 graham cracker, broken in half to make two squares
One or two squares of milk chocolate (half of a classic Hershey’s chocolate bar works well)
1 marshmallow
A wooden or metal skewer

Layer a chocolate piece on top of each graham cracker.

Toast your marshmallow over an open flame, until it is the color of toast.

Remove the marshmallow from the flame.

Place the prepared graham cracker under it and carefully slide the marshmallow off the skewer, quickly capping it with a second square of chocolate, if desired, and the second graham cracker.

Eat the gooey creation and marvel at its simple perfection.

Not a purist? Add a spoonful of peanut butter.

No open flame? If you’re camping in the backyard, you can cook s’mores inside and bring them out. Toast marshmallows in a broiler or toaster oven by lining a small metal baking pan (or toaster oven pan) with foil and non-stick spray. Turn the marshmallows halfway through cooking, which will only take a few minutes. Watch them to prevent them from burning.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

 

Make Stuff Together: A Book to Inspire Family Crafting and a Giveaway

I was drawn to Bernadette Noll, co-author with Kathie Sever of Make Stuff Together, 24 Simple Projects to Create as a Family, the first time I saw her online. Now, it could be that she co-produces Slow Family Living, and here I am at Slow Family Online. Or that she was so friendly when we initially chatted about supporting each other’s efforts. It could also just be — and I suspect this is true for people who know her in person, too — that she exudes creativity and deep connection in everything she does, whether it’s sharing a tutorial on her Future Craft Collective blog, which she created with her Make Stuff Together co-author, the equally compelling Kathie Sever, or candidly revealing lessons learned along her and her family’s journey on her more personal blog, Just a Minute.

That same spirit I initially saw is evident on every page of Make Stuff Together. Bernadette and Kathie put much of themselves into this book, which is as much about creating a joyous and expressive family life as it is about creating objects — though of course the objects are delightful, too. It was on Future Craft Collective that I first read about “upcycling”, and many of the projects in Make Stuff Together feature clever re-use of such items as bird-seed bags, inner tubes, billboards, neoprene and fabric samples, as well as ideas about where to find such things. Fittingly, the authors note that their sense of community deepened during their search for materials — they met and befriended people they wouldn’t have otherwise, and their kids benefited from that experience.

Make Stuff Together also has wonderful information about working with kids on sewing and other crafting projects. I find these deeply helpful and comradely. Among the suggestions, which the authors expand upon:

Let go of expectations
Honor process over project
Decide what your boundaries are, in terms of space, chaos, and materials
It’s okay to help when necessary
Not everything is sacred — sometimes re-doing, un-doing, or starting over is just the right act
Slow down, connect, and enjoy!

Of course, the meat of the book is its projects, and each is delightful, with colorful, inspiring photography and easy-to-follow instructions and patterns. My family and I are especially drawn to the Family Flags and Appreciation Banners the Game Board and Caddy, and the Napkins and Napkin Rings, which are shown in vintage fabrics and buttons.

Many of the projects are as useful as they are lovely, such as the Water-Bottle Holster, Tool Roll and Nature Pouch, Armchair Caddy, and Birthday Crown. There are games to make, items to grace a table, and fun, quick projects that would make wonderful gifts or keepsakes.

Make Stuff Together makes me want to grab my daughter, dust off the sewing machine, dig out our scrap fabric and start creating together.

To celebrate Make Stuff Together I am giving away a copy to a lucky reader. To enter to win, simply leave a comment below by Midnight, U.S. Eastern, Friday, July 1 and tell me your favorite thing to craft or something you’d like to make this summer.

Photos courtesy of Bernadette Noll.

Happy Summer! Easy Summer Solstice Cupcakes

Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the beginning of the summer season, is upon us June 21 this year, at 17:17 Universal Time, or 1:17 pm on the U.S.’ east coast, 10:17 am on the west. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, it can be marked by Midsummer festivals, especially in Scandinavia, where people celebrate with maypoles that honor nature’s bounty and bonfires that recall the heat and warmth of the sun. Still other cultures have solstice rituals that honor the sun, the feminine and the masculine.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, my family often attends a summer solstice celebration at Muir Beach, hosted by the Muir Woods National Monument park rangers. We enjoy a bonfire, nature storytelling and campfire songs, and a ritual walk around the fire, holding stalks of sweet flowers and herbs, and then throwing them into the fire, to greet the new season and also let go of anything that no longer serves us.

Here are more photos from last year’s summer solstice at Muir Beach.

An easy way to celebrate Summer Solstice, whether your gathering is a large one or a cozy one, is to make Summer Solstice Cupcakes. This recipe comes from the terrific book, Circle Round:

Just as Winter Solstice gives birth to the light, Summer Solstice, with its day that never seems to end, holds the seeds of darkness. We discover darkness in the bits of chocolate concealed inside this sunny cupcake.

1/2 C butter (one stick) softened in the summer sun
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2 C flour, sifted first and then measured
pinch of salt
2 t. baking powder
1 C milk
1 C chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir in. Follow with 1/2 cup milk, then the other half of the flour mixture and the rest of the milk. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Use paper liners, or grease and flour cupcake tins. Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 375′ oven.

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Because of the sweetness of the cake and chips, these don’t need frosting, but you can certainly add it, in a solid color or a cheery sun or flower design.

This is a great explanation of how Summer Solstice works. Happy Winter Solstice to those in the Southern Hemisphere, who are marking the lengthening days. Perhaps chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate chips are in order?

Happy Solstice to all!

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, Joy

Postcards Between Poles: Virtual Pen Pals in the U.S. and N.Z.

Did you have a pen pal while you were growing up? Or do you have one now? I had several, and I loved writing to them and receiving their letters. I had long-time pen pals in Japan, Fiji, Switzerland, France, Lake Tahoe, CA, and Scranton, PA, among other places.

Now, this was before the internet, which lets us send instantaneous video-embedded messages around the globe. While some may still revel in the simple act of putting pen to paper and writing out thoughts in longhand, then licking and stamping an envelope (perhaps even embellishing with stickers, doodads, or sealing wax), there are others for whom this sounds as quaint and efficient as rolling a message into a bottle and letting it float out to sea.

Elise and I met online, as it happens. I was immediately drawn to her beautiful, and often whimsical, photography, and the playful way she portrayed her and her family’s life in New Zealand. She was drawn to my message of slowing down and observing life’s small moments. She proposed a blog in which we sent electronic photos and postcards across the globe (and across seasons) to one another once a week, following a simple theme that we alternated choosing, and adding a short message.

The result is Postcards Between Poles.

The photos for the diptychs are taken the week they’re sent. The postcards often are, as well, though we allow for a little stretching of time where they’re concerned.

As Elise writes on the blog:

A postcard is a glimpse into the life of someone we know or a stranger.   The image on the front and writing on the back cleverly capture a moment in history that tells a story.

I find that receiving delightful electronic missives does replicate some of the surprise and joy of receiving a letter from an exotic place. I hope you likewise enjoy coming with us on the continuing journey of Postcards Between Poles. Did you, or do you now, enjoy having a pen pal?

These are just a few of the postcards we’ve exchanged over the months.

Cape Palliser, Wairarapa, by Elise
Tibetan Prayer Flags, by Elise
Rainbow Laden, by Suz
Spring has Sprung, by Elise
Granary Burying Ground, by Suz
San Francisco Storefront, by Suz

Slow Family Has Moved – Come Along!

While you were sleeping, workshop elves helped Slow Family Online move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. If you are a subscriber, you may need to make a change to continue to receive Slow Family Online news.

If you subscribe through your own WordPress blog, you will need to visit SlowFamilyOnline.com and subscribe by email, in the right-hand column.

If you subscribe in a reader, you will need to visit your reader’s home page and enter the new feed address, www.slowfamilyonline.com/feed

If you bookmarked the old suzlipman.wordpress.com address, you will need to change your bookmark to www.slowfamilyonline.com

If you subscribe by email, you don’t need to change a thing to continue to receive updates from Slow Family Online.

Thank you for your patience and support. Cheers to enjoying a terrific and slow summer.

Suz

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow Down for Summer: Join me for a Webinar June 30th and Find out How

Yearn to slow down and fully enjoy summer? I will share lots of great ideas Thursday, June 30, 11 am Pacific Time, 2 pm Eastern Time in the U.S., in a Slow Down for Summer webinar hosted by KaBOOM!, an organization that supports play and helps communities erect great playspaces.

Games, crafts, activities, and more will be covered. You’ll come away with fun, simple and inexpensive ideas for making the most of your family time and the season.

In, addition, I’m giving away four signed copies of CEO Darell Hammond‘s New York Times bestseller, Kaboom: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. To enter in a random drawing for the books, leave a comment here about your favorite way to play (and let me know if you’d like to sign up for my email list) or sign up to receive occasional Slow Family email news in the right column of my blog and leave a comment here that you did. (If you’re already a subscriber, and you wish to be entered in the drawing, leave me a comment and let me know.) Entries are due by Midnight, Eastern Time. June 29th.

You can also register for the webinar in advance.

Happy Summer!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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