Garden Love

grandma's vegetable garden

A trip up north in the summer means EJ gets to help Grandma in her garden.

some flower are mixed in

EJ wakes up (before mom) and joins grandma outside to help her feed the fish, water the plants, and pick the vegetables.

picking green beans

loading the vegetables into her wagon

white cucumbers, green beans, green peppers, and tomatoes

It also means we get garden fresh meals!

greek salad

On the Road Again

Summer vacation is officially in full swing. We were excited to pack up the car and head up north for some time with family and friends.

It is not an entirely work free vacation. DaddyO will be spending a couple weeks in Norfolk, VA flying midshipmen around. Fortunately we will still get to spend time with him and also see my brother who is finishing up his last couple months with the Navy. After that it is further north for more time with family!

ready to hit the road

EJ could tell something was going on as we packed our bags and loaded up the car. It is so much fun having her as an active participant with our travel preparations now. The three main things we made sure we had on our trip for her were toys, books, and snacks. They would make the 850 mil drive much more bearable.

We hit the road early in the afternoon and made a quick stop at Hog Heaven, a hole in the wall barbecue joint DaddyO was told "he had to try" in AL. Then it was just rest areas and gas stations all the way up to VA.

enjoying a georgia rest area

EJ was a wonderful traveler. We timed our departure so we could get a few hours under our belt during her afternoon nap. Then she stayed occupied with toys and books until it was bed time. We drove through the night and she woke up just before our arrival in Norfolk. We could not have asked for a better drive!

Summer Reading Program - Complete

EJ started our local library's reading program the beginning of the summer and I was determined that we would finish it before we left on summer vacation. EJ did it!

She rolled the die, landed on the finish square, and got to put a race car on the library's window.

her purple race car

She was also given a drawstring backpack filled with coupons and a ring pop. She enjoyed carrying it around.

with her backpack

This will be a fun activity to do each summer!

Michelle's Urban MiniFarm

backyard chicken coupe

I love living in the city where food and entertainment are just a short walk or bike ride away. I have told DaddyO that if we cannot live in the city though, I would love a home where we could have chickens, goats, and other small animals. No suburban life for me; I guess I like extremes.

michelle holding one of her chickens

Now that EJ is getting older we are considering the latter option more and more. DaddyO and I were both lucky enough to grow up in a country setting. I have memories of catching turtles in our lake and DaddyO of playing in the neighboring cornfields.

The other Day I was excited to visit a friend who has combined the best of both worlds. She lives in the city with a farm in her backyard. She calls it her urban minifarm. EJ called it fun!

She got to hold fluffy little bunnies.

It was sad to hear these animals were being raised for their meat, but I guess that is the harsh reality of having a true farm.

Her favorite animal was by far the chicken. They kept for their eggs (which Michelle's 18 month old daughter collects for her each day).

EJ enjoyed carrying around the seed bucket and feeding them.

Michele even chased one down for the kids to pet!

EJ went home with her crocs full of chicken manure and smelling like a barnyard; the sign of a fun filled day. Maybe someday she won't have to go farther than our back door to get the same experience!

Superhero Mask and Cuffs

making little pew pew noises instantly makes you a superhero

My sweet little (not so little anymore) nephew is turning four this week. He is crazy about anything that has to do with superheros so of course that is the theme of his upcoming birthday party. I was excited when I received the invitation because I had the perfect gift in mind.

felt mask and cuffs

What more could any superhero need but a mask and arm cuffs? Okay, a cape and some nifty weapons would also be helpful but I was sure he already has those:)

I used this mask template to cut out two pieces of felt (red and blue), sewed them together and added elastic.

The arm cuffs were a bit more difficult. I used EJ's arm to get the idea of the size and then cut felt to fit. When I get a chance I will upload the final template I used.

Here are some more fun things you can include with the gift:
Superhero Cape
Superhero Identity Card

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

hungry caterpillar material

I have always enjoyed reading "The Hungry Caterpillar" to EJ so I was very excited when i saw hungry caterpillar material at A&E Pharmacy. I had to have it!

My mind started whirling about all of the fun things I could make with the bright colorful designs. So far EJ has some appliqued onesies, caterpillar dresses, and a drawstring backpack. She enjoys pointing out the caterpillar every time she finds it on her outfit. If she wasn't in love with the hungry caterpillar before she is now!

This is the backpack I made using these directions.

And here is EJ posing for mama...

Backyard Sanctuary

hungry baby cardinal

Even though we live in "the city" I have been excited to discover that we still get to enjoy some wonderful nature. A colorful array of birds, friendly lizards, and an occasional rodent visit our backyard and we just discovered a nest of baby birds living in our citrus tree. EJ has gotten up close to see them go from eyes closed to wide open!

Japan Themed Storytime

japanese books

EJ and I love story time! Whether it be Wednesday morning storytime at our local library or curled up on the bed with a book, the ability to be transported to a new place through the stories is always exciting.

When I picked up "The Boy In The Garden" from the library a couple weeks ago it gave me the idea to have a storytime centered around Japan. Friends from Japan came over for one and Hop Along Mums and Bubs for another.We read "The Boy In The Garden" and a few other books together. It was a wonderful springboard to share/reminisce about our experiences in Japan.

Here is a list of some other books:
"First Book of Sushi" Amy Wilson Sanger
"Guri and Gura's Songs of the Seasons" Rieko Nakagawa and Yuriko Yamawaki
"Squeamish About Sushi" Betty Reynolds
"Tokyo Friends" Betty Reynolds

If you would like to include music in your storytime, Haru Ga Kita, from Raffi's "Everything Grows" CD, is a fabulous song that introduces kids to the Japanese language. Here is a song sheet I typed up to go along with the song. It is quite catchy!

Butter Mochi Recipe

When I think of traditional Japanese food I immediately think of mochi, a Japanese rice cake made of gluttonous rice. It is a part of many Japanese traditions and can be made in a variety of ways: mochi, pumpkin mochi, and "in a rush" mochi.

I was in the mood for something sweet and wanted to use my sakura blossom cutters, so I decided to make butter mochi.

Once you have the gluttonous rice flour and coconut milk, the rest of the ingredients are a breeze. The sugar can be increased or reduced depending on your taste. I found the amount used in the recipe to be the perfect level to go with green tea, a wonderful pairing of sweet and bitter.

I found this butter mochi recipe from Zakka Life; a blog with great recipes and craft ideas (can't wait to do the lego party!).

Butter Mochi Recipe

1 box Mochiko flour (16 oz.)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter melted
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can coconut milk (12 oz)

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Mix both together. Pour into a glass 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hour. Time may vary according to your oven. Cover with tinfoil if it begins to get too dark.

Let cool. Cut into 1 1/2" squares. Because mochi is so sticky, it's easier to cut with a plastic knife.

Making the mochi cake took me back to my first experience with mochitsuki (pounding the mochi rice into mochi). A few years back while living in Japan, DaddyO's Japanese sister squadron hosted a New Year's party and we all got to try our hand at the pounding.

DaddyO was a pro!

Week 3 Menu

I was in a bit of a food rut last week. Not in the mood to cook but also not in the mood to go out. It was probably a mixture of the hot weather and being exhausted at the end of the day after running after a little one.

I had fun putting together this menu and hope to have even more fun cooking the meals!

Steamed Clams in White Wine
Fresh Peach Pie

Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers
Naan (will never buy it again after making this recipe, tastes just like a restaurant's)
Saffron Rice Pilaf

Texas Flour Tortillas
Pesto Chicken Quesadillas
Blueberry Sour Cream Pie

Ants in Trees

Greek Salad

Mom's Sake Salmon
3/4 lb. salmon
2 tbl. soy sauce

2 tbl. sugar

1/4 cup sake
1 tsp. grated ginger

1 tsp. lime juice
Cut salmon into 1 inch strips and lay in glass pan
Brush with sauce
Broil for 2 minutes
Brush again and broil for another 2 minutes

Avocado and Mango Sandwiches
Fudge Popsicles

One World, Many Stories

EJ is participating in her first summer reading program "One World, Many Stories" at our local library.

her game board

She has been reading and rolling her way around the game board and hit her first stop sign this week.

rolling the die with the librarian

Hitting the stop sign meant she got to put her name on the wall and pick out a book to take home.

can you find her car...

She (I) picked out "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus". A fun interactive story that was first read to her at a story time months back.

proud of her new book

Raspberry Thimbles

DaddyO picked up some raspberries for EJ on our way back from the beach this morning. I never would have thought how much fun she'd have eating them. She gobbled them up one by one off the tip of her thumb.

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