Category Archives: Home Ec.

Super Food for the Super Bowl

We love to gather family and friends for fun TV viewing events. This year’s Super Bowl match up between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, February 3 in New Orleans, provides plenty of opportunities for hearty themed food to keep viewers satisfied.

Geographically Themed Food

Crab Cakes

In the Battle of the Bays, it’s the Chesapeake in Maryland that nets the crab for yummy Maryland Crab Cakes. These irresistible ones are from Paula Deen.

New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse is no slouch in the crab cake department. His Chesapeake Bay Classic Crab Cakes use homemade mayonnaise for superb flavor. He also offers Crab Cakes with Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad. I love that combo!

Quaff some local beer with your crab cakes, such as Flying Dog, Union Craft, or National Bohemian (“Natty Boh” to the locals.)

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread was invented in San Francisco, and many say that because of San Francisco’s unique foggy weather, no other sourdough can quite match it. Sourdough is really fun to make with kids. Not only is the resulting bread chewy and delicious, the rising dough provides a fun-to-watch kitchen science experiment. Try this recipe for Sourdough Bread, and eat it the San Francisco way, by scooping out a “bowl” in a round sourdough loaf and filling it with clam chowder, cioppino (below, another San Francisco food), or your favorite soup.

In times past, bakers made sourdough starters (or mothers), some of which were passed from kitchen to kitchen to create the perfect bread. Here’s how to make your own  sourdough starter. Unlike the version, above, you don’t even need yeast! Learn how sourdough starters work.

Cioppino

San Francisco’s 19th century Italian fishermen gave us this dish, which is a melange of crabs, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and other fish gathered from the bay and served in a tomato base. You can easily make a cioppino most anywhere with fish on hand.

Grab some beers from any of a number of San Francisco area breweries and microbreweries, such as Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas,

Read about more San Francisco native foods.

New Orleans Gumbo

I didn’t think I could mention Cioppino without summoning New Orleans Gumbo. If your taste runs to the rich and Cajun-spiced, this is your dish. Serve over rice, if you’d like. Try a chicken, sausage and seafood Gumbo from Paula Deen or this New Orleans Creole Gumbo from Epicurious that features crab and sausage.

New Orleans Beignets

I’m not sure how my family came to associate doughnuts with the Super Bowl. There have been years when we’ve gone out early Super Bowl morning to the best doughnut shops to procure them. As the sweet, doughy beignet is the doughnut of New Orleans, you might want to give this Beignet recipe from Southern Living a try.

Team Themed Food

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers get their name from the miners and others who swarmed into California just before 1849, at the discovery of gold and its promise of riches. Though the Gold Rush lasted just a few short years, it swelled the non-native population of California from 1,000 to 100,000 and made a few people rich — largely the merchants and others who sold goods to the 49ers, rather than the miners themselves. Because the 49ers loom large in the area’s history and imagination, you might want to invoke them at your Super Bowl Party.

Think “Chuck Wagon style” and serve hot dogs and beans, chili, or even Sloppy Joes in pie tins, a version of which the hungry miners would have eaten around a campfire. Add sourdough bread (above), cornbread, biscuits, chips, or goldfish crackers. Wash the food down with good ol’ sarsaparilla — known in these parts as root beer.

If you’d like, decorate your table with gold nuggets — paint small rocks with gold paint or glitter glue. Decorate your table or food in Niners colors, red and gold.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are a little tougher, as far as a theme goes. The team that reportedly got its name from Edgar Allen’s poem, The Raven, might inspire a dish with small foul, such as squab, quail, or chicken cutlets, like one of my favorite recipes, Chicken Cutlets with Raspberries, from the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook. (Frozen raspberries work as well as fresh.)

And if Ravens got you thinking about Blackbird Pie, you could make your own interpretation, and create a savory Chicken Pot Pie or a sweet Lattice-Top Blackberry Blackbird Pie from Paula Deen, in which the “bird” is merely decorative. The Baltimore Ravens’ colors are purple, gold, white and black.

Football Themed and Game Food

You didn’t think we were going to leave without presenting some football-themed food, did you? No matter who you’re rooting for, these are fun for any game day.

This impressive and super-fun football snackadium from Sunshine and Sippy Cups will feed a crowd.

I offer a wonderful guacemole recipe — my husband’s! — to use in your snackadium, or as a separate dip.

Soft pretzels are another Game Day crowd favorite. Kids love to make these, too. They begin, like the sourdough (above), by waiting for the dough to rise.

Looking for unusual and tasty cheese for the big game? Try Comte Raw Milk Gruyere, Hirtenkase, Coolea, Rolf Beeler

Need sweets? Decorate gingerbread or your other favorite cookies to make football cookies.

Both sides will be able to agree on these Double Chocolate Football Cupcakes from The Baker Chick.

Have fun enjoying enjoying an American pastime with family and friends. Go team!

Looking for more activity and game ideas for kids? See also:

Super Bowl Food and Games for Kids and Families, Chicago Now

How to Make Your Super Bowl Party Super Fun, Red Tricycle

 

 

 

Photos: Sunshine and Sippy Cups, Paula Deen, Romulo Yanes/Epicurious, Pillsbury, Sunshine and Sippy Cups, Morguefile, The Baker Chick

 

Make Yummy Desserts with Tillamook Yogurt

Ever since Tillamook introduced its regular and light yogurt, we’ve been eating it, well, almost as quickly as we eat Tillamook cheese. We recently decided to branch out from breakfast and check out some of the yogurt recipes on the Tillamook site. We were very glad we did!

My mom used to make yogurt pie, using a graham cracker crust. I so associate it with my childhood summers, and have made it for my family over the years. I was especially delighted to find this recipe for Yogurt Pie made with a shortbread crust and drizzled with melted chocolate. It’s delicious and kicks the traditional yogurt pie up a notch, while still being very easy to make.

Yogurts also make wonderful bases for smoothies and shakes. The Bronson Sunrise Smoothie is terrific in the morning, after a bike ride, or after school. We also like all these Shake recipes, which can be made in a blender to create a shake or a smoothie.

Tillamook yogurt contains no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors or colors, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial growth hormones.

Click the coupon below for “Buy one, get one free” Tillamook yogurt coupons.

Read my review of Tillamook yogurt flavors.

Tillamook provided sponsorship and coupons to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Creative and Easy Halloween Costumes for Kids

Every Halloween, many of us wrestle with costume ideas for our kids. Some of us are talented at sewing and whipping up costumes, and also organized enough to be among those thumbing through Halloween pattern books in August (as my own mom was.) Some of us guiltily feel that we should be making our kids’ Halloween costumes, but start a little late, or are short on time or skills. Others of us would prefer not to buy a complete off-the-shelf costume, even as some of our children say they prefer these, for a variety of reasons. They can be expensive and end up little-used; their themes are often unappealing (overly commercial or overly sexual) and limited; buying one close to Halloween lands us in a loud, frenzied store.

For all but those who are in the first camp, I have a solution. It’s one I employed almost every year at Halloween: Combine the store-bought with the homemade by buying a base costume and embellishing it. The costume above is a dalmation, made from spotted children’s pajamas that we found. I added the rickrack trim to the neck. The ears are made from two triangles each of dalmation-print fabric and pink flannel, cut slightly larger than the desired finished size. Sew a triangle of each fabric together, right sides together, to form the ear shape. Turn each sewn pair right side out and run a pipe cleaner up its middle. Sew a few stiches around the bottom of each ear to close, and attach the ear with more thread to a child’s plastic headband and bend the pipe cleaner to shape the ear. This is an easy way to create ears or antennae for a variety of costumes. The face makeup completed the dalmation look. This was so simple, but a little bit of embellishment allowed us to be creative and have Anna have the costume she wanted, without taking a lot of time in the creation.

I’ve found that one myth of Slow Parenting is that crafts, foods and other items have to be made from scratch to be somehow “worthy”. I advocate that the most important thing for parents and families is to spend their time the way they choose. For some people, and in some years, that might mean creating a costume from scratch. But it shouldn’t feel mandatory. If something feels like a chore, despite our best intentions, I advocate switching models. Many of us admire crafters (and cooks and home decorators) like Martha Stewart, whose creations appear perfect and effortless, but public style icons can also have a way of making many people feel that they, too, need to perform similarly. In our frenzied world, most of us don’t have precious time to spend doing things that don’t bring us joy. In our family, that meant relying on a combination of store-bought and homemade ingredients to come up with Halloween costumes that were creative, easy, memorable and fun.

When Anna was one year old, I made a pea-pod costume, based on a pair of green footed dinosaur pajamas. Wonderfully, they had a contrasting bib of lighter green color in the front. Over that, I sewed five large green pom poms to form peas. I also made two tubes of felt and stuffed each and sewed them around the “peas”. I cut the dinosaur tail off the back of the costume. To the top of the green hat that came with the costume, I attached a “string” of curly green pipe cleaner. Another string was attached below the peas.

Here she is, almost one and on the move.

 

After two years of the beloved dalmation costume, when Anna was four, I made a sequined-line cape that turned a black leotard and tights into a bat costume. To make a scalloped-shaped cape, I folded a length of satin accordion style into eight parts. With the parts atop one another, I cut a semi-circle out of each end, and that gave it its shape. I glued a line of sequins along the scallops, and followed the directions below to complete the cape.

Another year, I made a simple 3-part western vest, with fringe sewn on (I used upholstery fringe) that went over a vintage 50s dress, so Anna could dress up as Patsy Cline. We pretty much continued the tradition of combining the store-bought, the homemade and the embellished throughout Anna’s school years.

Here are a couple of other quick costume ideas, for Halloween or any dress-up time. These are adapted from my book, Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World.

Tunic: Cut a hole for a head in a one-yard piece of fabric.

Cape: Fold over an inch of a piece of fabric at least 24” long. Sew a seam, leaving a casing to string elastic or a tie through.

Tutu: Cut strips of tulle approx. 4″ wide and 20″ long from a roll or a 4-yard piece. Loop each strip around a waist-sized piece of elastic or a headband. Thread ends of tulle through the loop and pull to tighten.

Crown: Wrap a strip or sheet of paper around a child’s head and tape the ends to attach. Cut a zig-zag shape around the top and decorate the outside.

Another idea, from Anna: If making or embellishing costumes is not for you, you can support artisans by buying homemade costumes on Etsy and elsewhere.

Happy Halloween!
Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

 

 

 

 

31 Awesome Pumpkin Recipes

 

Trick or treat! A pumpkin recipe for every day in October, including some that might surprise you.

Row 1, left to right:

Pumpkin challah from The Jew and the Carrot

Pumpkin cheesecake with white ginger chocolate from A Farm Girl Dabbles

Pumpkin pie with maple crumb topping from Kids Cooking

Pumpkin cookie cake from Hello Moye

Soft frosted pumpkin spice cookies from The Baker Chick

Row 2, left to right:

Chocolate chip pumpkin bars from Cook Woman Food

Rice cooker pumpkin sage risotto from Le Delicieux

Pumpkin ice cream from The Baker Chick

Roasted pumpkin with shallots and sage from Martha Stewart

Pumpkin butterscotch cake from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Row 3, left to right:

Pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting from Family Bites

Pumpkin polenta pumpkins from My Recipes

Pumpkin crunch cake from The Picky Apple

Pumpkin garlic knots from Handle the Heat

Row 4, left to right:

Baked pumpkin oatmeal from Cooking with My Kid

Pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream cheese frosting from Brown Eyed Baker

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles from A Bitchin Kitchen

Pumpkin spice cashew cheese dip from Lunch Box Bunch

Brown butter pumpkin cake with honey cinnamon frosting from Redeeming the Table

Row 5, left to right:

Homemade pumpkin spice latte from Confections of a Foodie Bride

BPA-free pumpkin pie from Mother Nature Network

Pumpkin cookies from Delicious

Baked pumpkin donuts from Sweetened with Honey

Pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream from Made in Melissa’s Kitchen

More recipes:

Pumpkin pie cupcakes from Une-deux Senses

Pumpkin cookies with cream cheese icing from House of Hepworths

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls with caramel from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Pumpkin hummus from Naturally Ella

Arabian squash cheese casserole from Mollie Katzen

Adzuki bean pumpkin casserole from Scandi Foodie

With all these pumpkin recipes, you’ll probably have plenty of pumpkin seeds. Why not roast them? Pumpkin seeds are delicious and nutritious roasted, and they will give your home a wonderful fall smell.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

You’ll need:

Pumpkin seeds
Cookie sheet
Olive or other oil
Salt or
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon allspice, ¼ teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 275.

Rinse pumpkin seeds and remove any pulp.

Dry on paper towels.

Brush a cookie sheet with oil.

Place seeds on the cookie sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt or cinnamon, ginger and allspice mix.

Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until roasted, checking and stirring them after 10 minutes.

This recipe is from FED UP WITH FRENZY: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains many other recipes and fun ways to enjoy all the seasons.

 

 

 

Stir up Some Triple Berry Jam

Canning has made a big comeback in recent years. For good reason— it’s a fun, easy, and economical family or group activity that even offers some kitchen science, as you watch the mixture transform from liquid to gel. Canning is productive too, and you can’t help but feel good when you see the bumper crop of jars filled with jewel- colored jam or other goodies that you’ll be able to give as gifts or eat all year long.

Anna started making jam with me the summer she was three years old. We had a favorite blueberry farm, about an hour from our house, and we began to travel there each summer during the extremely short (about two- week) blueberry season, to collect ripe berries and sit at a small counter to enjoy the freshest blueberry ice cream imaginable. If you are fortunate to have berries available, now is the time to make jam. Versions of this recipe can be made with many fruits. Consult pectin packaging or canning books or sites for recipe proportions.


You can make excellent jam from most fruits and berries. Because Michael is from Pennsylvania blueberry country, I absorbed his love of blueberry jam, which can be phenomenal and offers a strong taste of sunny summer in the depths of midwinter when you spread just a little on toast. Raspberry jam is wonderful to use in holiday cookies and tarts. Peaches and apricots are also
fun to work with and make excellent jams and chutneys. The jam we turn to most often, though, is the rich, complicated, and flavorful triple- berry jam.

You’ll need:

• Canning jars, half-pint size preferable (available in supermarkets
and hardware and drugstores—you shouldn’t use
old household jars, as they might be scratched)
• New canning lids and new or used bands
• Wide- mouth funnel and jar lifter (available at many
hardware and drugstores)
• Ladle and tongs
• Pot holders, dish towels or cloths, and sponge
• Mixing bowls
• Wooden spoons
• Heavy- bottomed pot for cooking
• Very large pot or canner that includes an inch of water
above the jars and plenty of room for the water to boil, and
a jar rack or cake- cooling rack
• 5 cups strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries (3
pints strawberries, 1 1/2 pints raspberries, and 1 pint
blackberries) at peak ripeness, chopped (with knife or food
processor, see below)
• 7 cups sugar
• 1 box dry pectin

Wash the jars, bands, and lids in soapy water.

Place the bands and lids in a saucepan and simmer for five minutes, without boiling. Turn off heat and leave them in the hot water until ready to use.

Place rack into the pot and place jars on the rack (to prevent them from breaking in the pot). Fill the pot with water to an inch above the jars. Bring the water to a boil and keep the jars in a rolling-boil bath for ten minutes. After that, they sit until ready to be used.

Chop the berries by hand or in a food processor. If using a processor, pulse the berries in small batches so you end up with fruit bits rather than a puree.

Measure sugar into mixing bowl.

Add berries and pectin to the heavy-bottomed pot and mix.

Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Quickly add sugar and continue to stir. Return to a full rolling boil. Then boil, stirring, for one minute.

Remove from the heat and skim off any foam with a ladle.

Remove the jars from their bath with tongs and a pot holder, and place them upright on a dish towel. Ladle the jam mixture into the jars, leaving 1/4of air, or headspace. Wipe the rims and threads with a wet cloth. Top with lids and screw on the bands.

Place the jam-filled jars back into the canning pot, and boil again for ten minutes to process, or additionally sterilize, them.

With certain vegetables and meats, the sterilization process is especially crucial to prevent food poisoning. Although the trend has moved away from the necessity of processing most fruit

jams, and just leaving them standing when filled, I still like to boil them a second time, the old-fashioned way.

Let filled and processed jars stand for approximately 24 hours at room temperature. Do not retighten the bands.

You know you have a good seal when you push on the lid and it doesn’t pop back. If the seal is not good, the jam can be stored in the refrigerator for three weeks. Otherwise, it can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to two years.

Label with the date and type of jam, particularly if you plan to make more.

Yield: Approximately 5 half pints.

Note: It’s important to understand and follow food canning safety guidelines.

Another Note: Thank you Joyce for writing about Fed Up with Frenzy on Baby Center! And thank you for your reminder about low-sugar jam. I do feature low-sugar alternatives in my book. Here is an excerpt:

There are lots of ways to make jam with reduced or alternative sugar. One way is to cut out the pectin, reduce sugar by about 1/3,  and boil the jam for 10-15 minutes until it reaches the jell point on its own. Another is to use a low-methoxyl pectin, such as Pomona’s, available at natural food stores. Jam made this way tastes terrific. This recipe makes berry jam.

You’ll need:

• 4 cups mashed berries
• ¼ cups lemon juice
• ½ – 1 cups. honey OR
• ¼ – 2 cup sugar

Low methoxyl pectin and calcium water, per package instructions.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, by Susan Sachs Lipman.

Other posts by Suz you might like:

The Bond of Blueberry Jam, Motherlode blog

Bake an Old Fashioned Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Tuesday: Summer  Triple Berry Crisp

 

 

‘Fed Up with Frenzy’ Blog Tour Coming to a Screen Near You

 

As many of you know, my book, Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, will be out August 1.

I am very eager for you to learn about all the fun ideas and projects I’ve collected to help your family slow down and reconnect. To do that, I’ve assembled an all-star team of bloggers to join the Fed Up with Frenzy Blog Tour to share their thoughts about the book and some of the ideas and projects inside.

 

Here is a partial list of bloggers and dates on the Fed Up with Frenzy Blog Tour. Please visit their sites for reviews, activities, tips and book giveaways! (And also, because they’re all wonderful sites with great information about kids, crafts, gardening, nature, free play, education, slowing down, creativity and family fun!)

August 1                                      Power of Slow     Review

August 2                                     Grass Stain Guru     Guest post

August 4                                       Exploring Portland’s Natural Areas Review

August 7                                     Red, White & Grew     Guest post

August 9                                     Slow Family Living     Review/Activity

August 15                                     Fun Orange County Parks     Review

August 17                                      Let Children Play     Guest post

August 22                                     Jen Spends     Review

August 24                                     Becentsable     Review

August 27                                     Real Moms Love to Eat     Recipe

August 28                                     A Place Like This     Review

September 5                              Rhythm of the Home     Guest post

September 5                               Mummy’s Product Reviews     Review

September 6                               Jump into a Book     Review

September 6                               Modern Day Moms     Review

September 7                               7 on a Shoestring     Review

September 8                             Dad of Divas     Review

September 10                            Go Explore Nature     Interview

September 12                           Active Kids Club     Podcast!

September 13                            Love, Life, Family and Then Some     Review

September 14                            Go Explore Nature     Activity

September 14                           Adventures of the Alpha Mom     Review

September 15                            What Mama Wants     Review

September 18                            Traveling Mel     Review/Activity

September 19                            Allison Abramson     Review

September 20                           Imagination Soup      Review

September 21                          Chi-Town Cheapskate     Review

September 21                          Frugal Mama     Review

September 24                          Go Gingham     Review

September 24                         Adventures of the Alpha Wife     Review

September 25                          Play Equals Peace     Interview

September 26                          A Little Yumminess     Review/Recipe

September 27                          Bright Copper Kettles     Review/Craft

September 28                          Parent Palace     Review

October 1                                   Noble Mother     Review

October 2                                   Frugal Mama   Guest post

October 3                                   A Little Bite of Life     Review

October 4-18                           The WELL Inkwell     Online Discussion

October 8                                  Love, Live, Grow     Review

October 12                                 Skinny Mom     Review

October 15-24                         Erin Goodman     10-day Family Recharge

October 17                                 Erin Goodman     Review

October 20                               I’m a Teacher, Get me Outside Here   Review

November 14                          Mama Scout     Review

November 15                          Frog Mom Blog     Review and Activity

November 27                          Salt and Nectar     Web chat

December 4                     Bliss Beyond Naptime  Audio, Frenzy-Free Holiday
Plus Video, Simplicity Parenting with Rhythm

December 7                      Polliwog on Safari     Review

January 3                          Non-Toxic Kids     Review

July 27                                Hill Babies     Review

Dates To Be Announced (this site will update):

Life as Mom

Nature Moms

Ask a Nanny

The Movement Academy Project

Connecting Family and Seoul

Would you like to join the blog tour? Please give me a shout. I’d be thrilled to have you join.

Blog tour badge by my talented husband, and the book’s illustrator, Lippy.

Coffee Roasting and Cupping with Highwire

We’re such fans of coffee in our house that when the opportunity came to attend a Coffee Roasting and Cupping at Highwire Coffee Roasters in Emeryville, CA, hosted by Slow Food East Bay, caffeinated or not, we jumped at it.

About a dozen people gathered over coffee and pastries at metal tables in a small industrial warehouse to learn a bit about the artisan company, which was started in 2011 by three friends with a shared passion for good coffee and talents ranging from evaluating, roasting, cupping and blending beans and coffees to retail and marketing, business and education. (Eric, Robert and Rich, below).

Highwire receives coffee beans from all over the world, based on a constantly shifting equation of availability, price and taste.

Eric is the master roaster, and he demonstrated his expertise and quality control, through a number of steps in the 15-minute roasting process — removing small amounts of beans from the oven during roasting to look, smell, feel, and ultimately decide when to release the beans from the oven to let them cool down. This is a process that he usually does alone and quietly, as it takes a great deal of  concentration.

This mesmerizing machine moves and fans the beans to help them cool after roasting.

Once the coffee was roasted, we went into the cupping room, where the Highwire folks routinely evaluate the various coffees.

We learned what a coffee taster looks for in a good cup, such as aroma, acidity, body, balance and flavor, all of which serve to bring out the subtle flavors and profiles that bespeak the region where the coffee was grown and harvested. Highwire favors a fairly light roast because, as they explained, once coffee is dark-roasted, one begins to taste the roast taste (which can have caramel or other notes), as opposed to the subtle taste of the various beans.

We each tasted three types of coffee – Sigri Estate from Papua New Guinea, Tano Batak from Sumatra, and Santa Isabel from Guatemala — using the cupping method of letting boiled water settle over the fine grounds and then tasting a small amount with a spoon. The fresh-ground coffee, drank this way, was quite mellow in flavor, even as its caffeine packed a punch (both are characteristic of lighter roasts.)

After smelling and tasting each, my favorite coffee kept changing. The Sigri Estate was slightly spicy, the Tano Batak and the Santa Isabel slightly fruity and sweet. The Tano Batak had some earth notes that we were told are characteristic of coffee from Sumatra. If I had to pick, that one would have been my favorite. Michael seemed to prefer the Santa Isabel.

It was an educational and fulfilling morning. We even left with 2 pounds each of Santa Isabel coffee and San Rafael coffee from Guatemala. And the coffee that Eric roasted in demonstration that morning? Because he had been talking through the roast, he deemed it not good enough for resale.

Photos: Highwire Coffee, Susan Sachs Lipman, Michael Lipman

6 Fun Family Activities to Enjoy This Weekend

For many, Memorial Day Weekend signifies the beginning of the summer season and a return to outdoor fun. Here are a few great activities that will help you make the most of it.

Make and Fly a Popsicle Stick Airplane

Everyone loves to make and fly airplanes, and the rounded popsicle-stick ends on these make for a fairly safe, satisfying, and easily assembled flying machine.

You’ll need: 5 popsicle or craft sticks per plane.

Stack three popsicle sticks and then fan them out so that one end of each stick is still touching the others. Glue the tops together. Weave a fourth popsicle stick over the first stick, under the middle stick, and over the third stick in the triangle. Weave a fifth popsicle stick the opposite way—under the first stick, over the middle stick, and under the third stick in the triangle. If desired, add a dot of glue at each juncture for extra security, and let the glue dry. Paint your airplane or leave it natural. Take it outside and fly as you would a paper airplane. Hold the middle stick and try to launch it decisively and parallel to the ground.

Camp in Your Backyard

Camping out in sleeping bags is fun any time of year—in a backyard, on a porch or balcony, even on the living-room floor. Play low-tech games, like cards and charades. Make traditional camp treats, like s’mores. If you’re outside, enjoy a game of flashlight tag, played by tagging players with beams of light.

Make Patriotic Cookies

These red, white and blue cookies are festive and fun to make anytime. Enjoy the creative process and enjoy the response when you bring them to a party or potluck. In addition, they taste particularly yummy!

Paint and Plant a Flower Pot

Looking for a simple garden project or a teacher or other gift? Paint a clay flower pot with tempera paint. Let it dry, fill with dirt, and plant your favorite plant or seed inside. You can also cover a pot with seed packets or other paper products and attach them with adhesive material, such as Mod Podge.

Get Your Garden Growing

Memorial Day Weekend can be a great one to get into the garden. There are fun gardening projects to interest every age gardener and lots of easy ways to get a garden started, even if you’ve never been much of a green thumb.

Play an Old-Fashioned Outdoor Game

Will you be with a group of people over the weekend? Get outside and play an old-fashioned game, like Hide and Seek, Duck Duck Goose or Tag. Or play Pickup Sticks with real twigs!

You’ll need: Approximately 41 twigs.

Hold the twigs in a bundle, then release them so that they land in a pile. Players take turns trying to remove one stick at a time, without disturbing any other sticks. When a stick from the pile is disturbed, the next player takes a turn. Some players use a designated stick to remove other sticks. When all the sticks have been removed from the pile, players total their numbers of sticks to determine the winner.

Enjoy your weekend!

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, VA State Parks

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Leprechaun Mischief, Lucky Clovers and Green Food

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, provides an especially fun opportunity to invite mischief and whimsy into your family and home, in the guise of leprechauns who might pay a visit.

This site about St. Patrick’s Day symbolism tells us that the wee leprechauns are actually a bit ornery and need to be lured away from their habitats to reveal the hidden pots of gold. This site reveals some St. Patrick’s Day history, and tells us that the holiday was a minor one until relatively recently. I’ve also observed that increasing numbers of people like to celebrate holidays in memorable and fun ways with their families. Here are a few ideas:

Create miniature letters, either for the leprechauns, or that the leprechauns might leave behind for your little ones after a visit.

Want to try to catch a leprechaun? Make a homemade leprechaun catcher. This one is made with PVC pipes and the proper lures and traps. Simple ones can be made with propped-up strawberry or other fruit containers or laundry baskets and a thimble or cup full of gold glitter to lure the leprechauns.

Leprechaun tend to leave traces. Here’s how to make leprechaun footprints to surprise your family.

Looking for an outdoor adventure for St. Patrick’s Day? Go on a four leaf clover hunt.

Or find nice flat rocks and paint them for luck.

Of course it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without wonderful green food!

These yogurt pretzel shamrocks are pretty and easy to make.

This is a very pretty and scrumptious looking green velvet St. Patrick’s Day cake.

Have fun with these whimsical Pot-o-Gold cupcakes.

These Leprechaun hat s’mores look very yummy.

.. As do these St. Patty’s Day brownies.

This fun Jell-o Rainbow is a super memorable treat.

Miniature leprechaun burgers are another hit with wee folk.

Share the leprechaun love! This cute printable helps you leprechaun your neighbors.

I hope you enjoy St. Patrick’s Day!

Also from Slow Family:

Miniature and Whimsical Food for Leprechauns, Fairies and Elves

Photos: Wizards and Fairies, Steve Spangler, Crafting Chicks, Butterflies, Suz Lipman, Sun Scholars, Love From the Oven, Grin and Bake It, Hostess with the Mostess, Real Mom Kitchen, Saucy Dragonfly, Mark Flickett, Martha Stewart’s Dreamers into Doers

Peter Rabbit Organics and Giveaway

Too bad Peter Rabbit Organics weren’t around when my daughter was little. We would have snatched the pouches up by the dozen. For starters, they’re delicious — extremely flavorful and unusually fresh tasting, not qualities normally associated with purchased baby food. They’re completely organic and contain 100% fruit or veggies — no added sugar, salt or artificial ingredients. The portions are generous – each pouch contains 70-85 calories and plenty of fiber and vitamins. The pouches are easy to use, either with a spoon or to eat directly from. They’re extremely portable and durable and don’t need refrigerating before opening. And, unexpectedly, you can even re-cap each BPA-free pouch and refrigerate to finish later. All good!

Our testers of all ages (kid to adult) enjoyed all 5 sample flavors. “Strawberry Banana” and “Mango, Banana and Orange” were exact blends of those ingredients, resulting in flavors that were very bright and evenly balanced. “Sweet Potato, Corn and Apple” had a deep and distinct sweet potato-and-apple taste, with a subtle hint of corn. Both squash and apple flavors came through nicely in the bolder tasting “Carrot, Squash and Apple” blend, with the carrot being exceedingly subtle. “Pea, Spinach and Apple” offered a nice taste appropriately dominated by fresh pea, with a hint of sweet apple. (We couldn’t taste any spinach, though we’re sure it was there!)

All the flavors we tasted were quite good. You’ll have to try a few to find your little one’s personal preference. (Older testers liked the fruit flavors and thought those would make good on-the-go snacks for sports teams.) Peter Rabbit Organics are available at lots of stores around the U.S. and online. (I also learned that the products are U.S.-made.)

I’m giving away a box with 12 assorted flavors of Peter Rabbit Organics, so that one lucky reader can try them, too! To enter, leave a comment on my blog and let me know what flavor you or your little one is most looking forward to trying. I’ll choose a computer-generated random winner. The giveaway closes Friday, March 9, Midnight, Pacific Time. Good luck!

Please note: Though I am occasionally sent products for review, I am not compensated, and reviews are honest, factual to the best of my knowledge, and my own.

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