Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not to put too fine a point on it

Sharpening pencils and crayons!

 The littles asked to do some writing practice, but the pencils they wanted to use were dull.
We got out the sharpener, and then all thoughts of writing were gone. They spent at least 45 minutes sharpening pencils, and then crayons. They'd take turns between the 2 sharpeners, and sometimes one would peel crayon wrappers off so that there was always a pile ready to go. 

We can always write another day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Old Time Harvest Day

Old Time Harvest Day 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2
Old-Time Harvest Day in Grove City will give today’s generation a look into the past at historical Century Village, 4185 Orders Road. The City of Grove City and the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society collaborate annually to organize this fun, free and educational event for the community. Demonstrations such as leather tooling, soap making, blacksmithing, butter churning and two-man sawing will be presented throughout the day along with period-appropriate harp and dulcimer performances. Most activities are hands-on and appropriate for all ages. Children will also have the opportunity to make crafts and learn old fashion games. Concessions will be available. Century Village, located at Fryer Park, represents the initial stage of development for a typical central Ohio community in the 1850’s and features a one room school, outhouse, windmill, log cabin and barn.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Slightly underwhelming natural history exhibit, saved by the public library

Stick Insect

We visited the World of Wonder exhibit at the Grove City Town Hall and Visitor Center, thinking it would be a good afternoon activity. However, even though the collection was pretty impressive, it is most certainly not for small children.

Green Nymph Stick Insect

 The Visitor Center has a small collection of historical items from Grove City's past and are also currently exhibiting an aisle of display cases containing the Rodney Eaken Collection of crystals, insects, fossils, and shells. Our small group of 2 adults and 5 children walked into the Town Hall/Visitor center, and were greeted only by dozens of small signs warning us not to touch anything. We never did find anyone to answer any questions about the historical items or the natural history collection. The kids enjoyed looking at the insects and fossils, but I found myself having to constantly remind them not to touch, leaving us all feeling tense before we'd finished looking at everything. We'd been pretty excited to see the dinosaur egg fossil, but sadly ended up missing it.

Walking Leaf Insect

Ammonite Fossils


 After a snack and a calm-down on a park bench outside the Visitor Center, we all decided it would be a good time to walk across the street to visit the library. We knew that there were a few more cases of shells over there, and the kids wanted to pick out some new bedtime books.

More enormous shells

 I knew that the larger libraries in town had extensive collections of in-library materials for kids, and computers set up with learning games, but I didn't realize that our little local branch had those resources as well. The kids had some fun playing on the computers, but then found the LeapFrog readers and decided to park themselves at a table for a while with them. It was really cute watching them figure out the systems. They told me pretty emphatically that they want to go back to try the other books soon.

Having fun with soft toys and puppets at the library
 All in all, it was a successful outing. We got to see some really interesting fossils and insects, and the kids are even more excited to be able to go to the Smithsonian Natural History museum someday. We also learned about a cool new feature of our local library, and got to visit with some of our favorite friends. Bonus: the kids stayed awake on the way home, and went to bed easier and earlier than normal. Yay!

Friday, September 23, 2011

And, the winner is...


It looks like the popular choice for the next Reusable Review is the Large Insulated Zippered Lunch Bag! They happen to be on sale right now for 50% off, so if you aren't feeling like waiting for the review, it's a great time to try one for yourself at only $9.95.
Congratulations, Candy! I'll be contacting you shortly (that's the only way I know how).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why, yes, we did go back to the Audubon Park

We happened to show up just as volunteers were bringing out nets and buckets for kids to search the wetlands for critters.  

Perfect, since H had decided that morning that he was going to be a creature all day. We never did figure out what kind of creature, but it involved paws, and didn't speak, but was an excellent critter finder. 

dragonfly larva
 We didn't get to see any frogs or turtles this time, but saw tons of damselflies mating and laying eggs, and quite a few dragonfly larvae.

We learned that grasshoppers like indeterminate creatures!

and regular kid-like kids too :)

  This guy spent much longer riding J's shoulder than I would have imagined,

 and then decided to take the creature for a spin.

J even bonded with a small mouth bass. She's the one on the right. 
I'm sure we'll be back again soon, there's a geocashe there that I will not let win.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Snack Bag Review and Giveaway!

I haven't done a reusable review in a while, and decided that it was long overdue.  There are so many great reusable products out there, but not always enough real-world opinions about them to help you choose the right ones for your family. I had the opportunity to try out a set of snack bags from reuseit.com on a recent trip to Firefly Play Cafe. The night before, I loaded them up with a variety of different snacks, but didn't go for anything goopy or wet this time. The large bag was filled with Tings, one smaller bag had raisins and dried apples, and the other small bag was filled with 4 clementines.

My thoughts? I love them! 
They are made out of a double layer of heavyweight nylon fabric, without any BPA, lead, or phthalates. I've never been comfortable with laminated snack bags since I could never find a definitive answer about the safety of PUL when it's in contact with food. This seems to be a great compromise. It's still a man-made material, but I haven't seen anything yet that makes me overly wary of nylon, and since our lunch bags are already full of stainless steel and glass, it's nice to have a lighter option for snacks.
The bags were easy for the kids to open and close without spilling the contents, which has been a problem with some of our other containers. They were super easy to clean (turn them inside out and toss them into the washing machine!). I haven't tried it yet, but I'm wondering if they'd do ok in the dishwasher. 
Our snacks also stayed nice and fresh. I specifically packed the Tings to see if they'd be stale the next day. The top of the bag folds down and is held in place when the velcro is fastened, which creates enough of a seal that the Tings were still crunchy and perfect when we opened them, and the dried apples didn't get tough. I probably wouldn't leave anything it there longer than overnight and expect it to stay fresh, but that's long enough for me to pack lunch and snacks for the next days adventures.
It was also nice that after our snacks were finished, the Snack and Sandwich bags pack down flat, making our bag much less bulky and cumbersome to carry at the end of the day.

Giveaway Time!!
 Reuseit.com has offered to send one Bootie Baby Blog reader a Sandwich and Snack bag set of their very own, in the color they like best!
I'm not going to make you jump through a bunch of hoops to enter, but I am going to ask a favor. Please take a moment to subscribe to Bootie Baby Blog, then go visit Reuseit.com, browse through their house brand of reusable products, and leave a comment telling me which one you'd like to see reviewed next. 
I'll choose a winner in one week, on September 23rd, using a random number generator.
Don't forget that I'll need a way to contact you if you're the winner :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Exploring Gantz Park

 It was a perfect day for an adventure, so we headed out to Gantz to do some exploring. First thing out of the car, we searched for and found a letterbox. After adding our stamp and replacing it safely, we headed down the path toward the gardens. The kids said hi to the reading girl statue, visited with a cat that was lounging closeby, then ran off to walk the labyrinth.

Don't forget to stand in the center to hear the echos!

Callicarpa japonica
 We found this shrub, which caught our attention with it's striking lustrous purple berry. It's not one we were familiar with, so we made sure to look for the sign. It's called Japanese Beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica), and seems to be related to Verbena

 While we were there, a bride and bridesmaids arrived to take photos. The kids were quite curious about them.
After a walk around the park and some squirrel watching, we explored the creek a bit. There were quite a few fish, and H and I surprised a small water snake while walking across some partially submerged rocks.
To finish off our adventure, we hopped back into the car and drove a few miles away to find our first geocashe!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rainy day at the Audubon Park

We went back to the Audubon Park today, despite the dampness outside, and had a great time. The climb up the water tower was quite exciting, since we'd forgotten to do that last time. J&H were so thrilled to be able to see the whole park from up there.
Going up the watertower
Checking out the view
Looking up
 We also had a rainy walk across the wetland area, where we got to see lots of ducks, frogs, water skimmers, and even got a glimpse of a quick little turtle that declined a photo.

Huge frog
Then we went back inside for a quick visit to the library, where we read a few books and did some birdwatching. The view from the library is amazing. You can see the whole wetland area from there.
View of the bird feeder from the library window

Trash butterfly

On September 10th, from 9am-12pm, the Scioto Audubon Center is having an Eco Back to School Event. There will be a children's clothing swap, raffles, games, and green products from local vendors. See the link above for more info and directions to the Center. 

Finally, when we got home, we were greeted by a brown praying mantis hanging out on our front porch. I'm sure it will be having a filling meal this evening.
I totally look like this jump rope, don't I?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Need some sugar? -Or- GF/Vegan S'mores!!

I needed some chocolate, and the kids hadn't done any cooking in a while, so I thought I'd come up with a fun new treat for them. I've been wanting to make s'mores with the kids, but I haven't been able to find a good vegan/gluten-free graham cracker. When I spotted a box of gluten-free graham cracker crumbs in the grocery store, I figured I'd give them a try. 
The recipe is extremely simple, and tooth-numbingly sweet. If there's a next time, I'll tone down (or eliminate) the additional sugar in the crust. 
First, I followed the directions on the box of Kinnikinnick Graham Style Crumbs for a cheesecake crust, adding 6 T of Earth Balance Margarine, and more sugar than necessary (I don't remember the exact amount).

Then, I pressed the crumbs into a lined springform pan and put it into the fridge while I prepared the chocolate. I poured about 3/4 cup of Enjoy Life Vegan Chocolate Chips into a Pyrex measuring cup with a tablespoon or so more Earth Balance and microwaved it in 20 second intervals until almost melted.

I poured the melted chocolate into the crust and spread it as evenly as possible, then put the whole thing back into the fridge for the chocolate to cool. 
After it had cooled sufficiently, the kids helped pour about half a bag of Dandies Vegan Marshmallows on top and made sure they were arranged in a single layer.

We all watched excitedly to see what would happen to the marshmallows when they were put under the broiler. They only puffed slightly, but browned nicely. We took them out before they crystallized too much, to make sure that they didn't get too chewy or hard.
The crust was a bit too crumbly, but they were the best attempt at GF/vegan s'mores that I've tasted yet. The kids were happy to lick the crumbs from their plates, and then spent a lot of time with a rag and a spray bottle of vinegar, cleaning the table.