Friday, March 30

Cherry Blossoms

We visited the Cherry Blossoms again this year.  It was a very very different visit than last year.  Abba came with us.  Originally our trip was scheduled for this upcoming week.  We moved it up as early as we could and we still missed most of the blossoms.  

 There were still some blossoms on the trees
The rest were in the tidal basin rather than on the trees. 

They were also scattered around the monuments
 Froggy made it rain petals, many of which landed in her hair.
 The blossoms being past their prime meant that we spent time elsewhere.  For instance I did not even know there as a Japanese pagoda honoring the Japanese origins of the cherry trees.  I had never been to before. 
We also visited the FDR memorial which I had never seen before. 

Monday, March 26

Menu Planning Monday - 3 Nissan 5772

We did better with the menu this week.  I played it safe and that helped.  I even gave up and played it safe with Shabbos dessert.   I am trying a couple of experiments for Shabbat this week. 

Sunday - Salad, Thai Tofu Stirfry, Rice, and Keem
Monday - Hamburgers, tatortots, steamed broccoli
Tuesday - Lentil Soup and Rolls
Wednesday - Pizza and Salad
Thursday - Dinner out with friends
Shabbat - Challah, Gefilte Fish Loaf, Roast Chicken, Cranberry Sauce, honey roasted red potatoes, green beans, Spring Cake

Sunday, March 25

Sidewalk Paint

We have been working inside quite a bit this week getting ready for Pesach but at least Froggy got outside today.  I made her a batch of sidewalk paint using the easiest recipe ever.  It is simply equal parts corn starch and water. 
We colored ours with the default set of 4 food coloring colors you can get at the grocery store.  We mixed colors to get purple and orange.

Then I took the paint outside and turned Froggy loose.
 Here is her masterpiece

Lentil Soup

 This recipe is from a friend.  It is a great protein rich soup and makes a complete meal.

1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 med. onion
2-3 carrots, sliced
2-3 celery stalks, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 c. water
1 chicken or vegetable bouillon
12 oz. lentils (or about 1 c. lentils and 1 c. barley)
2 Tbsp. parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 c. water
Heat olive oil in pot. Saute onion and garlic, then add carrots and celery and saute some more. When done, add water, bouillon, and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hr. (Check water level to make sure lentils don't suck up all the water. I usually add several cups of water during the process). After 1 hour, add tomatoes and last cup of water. Break up tomatoes with spoon and cook for another 15 min. (Now is a good time to check broth and adjust spices as needed.) After the 15 minutes, the soup should be ready to go.

Friday, March 23

Steel Country

We are continuing our journey with Paddle-to-the-Sea.  This week, we visited the coal country around Lake Erie.  This was a particularly fun chapter for me since I am very familiar with this area of the country and had special memories to share with Froggy.
The text is very short but paints a vivid picture of the fire from the Steel mills.  The text focus on the freight ships and the Niagra Falls.  However, we took a deeper look at the steel mills, coal mining and its impact on the environment.  We visited a  virtual coal museum.
We looked at some old photos of Pittsburgh during the Steel times.  I shared Saba's story of what Pittsburgh was like when he went to Carnegie Mellon.  And then both Abba and I shared stories and pictures of what Pittsburgh was like when we lived there and how beautiful it is now.
This is the same church now.

And then I continued sharing explaining how Pittsburgh is a success story but that many of the smaller towns that Paddle visited are now ghost towns because the mills have closed.

It is really late in the book but I just found this amazing website that is designed to accompany Paddle's journey using Google Earth.

Thursday, March 22

Summer Dresses

One of the unfortunate consequences of the unseasonably warm weather we have been having is that I really need to work on a summer wardrobe for Froggy in the midst of all our Pesach prep.  She finally has four spring / summer dresses.  It is not a full wardrobe but it is a start.  The rest will need to wait until next week as I need to put the sewing machine away and get ready for Shabbat 
 I made her three tshirt dresses.  These dresses are fast and very inexpensive for me to make since I use the tshirts Grandma gives us and fabric from my stash.  Each dress is different.  Only the red dress has ties.  The Pooh Bear dress has an elastic waist and the blue dress uses a very fitted shirt so needed nothing else to gather it.
 This is my favorite of the new dresses.  It is from the same pattern I used last year.  I did not even cut a new size. I just lengthen the skirt.  I love that the dress is more fitted and flows more smoothly than her tshirt dresses.  Unfortunately it also takes at least twice as long as the tshirt dresses so  I cannot make a full wardrobe in this pattern.  As well Froggy really likes the t-shirt dresses because she is more independent in them.  The zipper in the back of this dress means she needs help changing.
Here is a close up of the bees flying across the middle.  There is supposed to be a honey pot in the bow but the honey pot in our set was broken so that will have to wait till we get to the store for a replacement.

A Pretty Purple Egg

This is the final in our series of egg experiments.  We took our sad shrunken egg made it grow.  We colored the water to show the water movement.  Froggy chose purple which we made by mixing red and blue.

Then we placed our shrunken egg in the colored water and left it there for approximately 24 hours.

The water moves easily into the egg across the semi-permeable membrane bring the food coloring with it.  This creates a pretty purple egg. 

Tuesday, March 20

The Shrinking Egg

We used our incredible shelless egg and shrunk it.
Our egg is a little bigger than a regular egg.  We placed it in our mason jar and covered it with corn syrup. For children used to pouring water and their drinks they were shocked at the thickness of the corn syrup I asked the kids what they thought would happen and they really had no idea.
 We left it in there for about 48 hours and then took it out and examined it.  Froggy's immediate comment was that it is "not fat anymore"
You can see in this shot how loose the membrane is around the egg.  Froggy was fascinated.  We talked about where all the stuff went.  I explained that the only thing that left was the water.  We talked about osmosis and  selectively permeable membrane.  I explained that only the small water molecules can pass through the membrane and the larger organic molecules stay behind inside the egg. This website has a great explanation. 

Monday, March 19

Menu Planning Monday - 25 Adar 5772

Last Week's menu was pretty much a disaster due to a deal of last minute changes to the schedule.  There were a couple of huge wins from Shabbat.  The Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake and the gefilte fish were both huge wins.  The gefilte fish is going on our Pesach Menu for sure. 

I hope this week's menu works better.  I have lots of meetings this week so the menu is a simple as possible with new experiments only for Shabbat.

Monday - Sloppy Joes, Green beans, tator tots
Tuesday - Fish Ala Jenn, Rice and Spinach Salad with this dressing.
Wednesday -  Chicken Pot Pie and peas
Thursday - Out
Friday - Challah, Wonton Soup, Sweet Salmon, Rice, Keem, Broccoli, Little Lemon Souffles.

Friday, March 16

St Patricks Day

We do not celebrate any of the Saint Days but her friends do. They learn about our holidays so it is only fair she learn about theirs. 

Froggy asked what St. Patrick's Day celebrated and I showed just how little I know of the holiday.  The only answer I had was that it celebrates being Irish.  So we learned together.  We focused more Ireland and its culture than on the religious aspects

We got St. Patrick's Day from the library.  It tells the story of Maewyn of Ireland and how he became known as St. Patrick.  I was not thrilled with having to explain what a saint is but I did it.

One of the teachers brought her bagpipes to learning club to share with all the children
They were positively captivated.  Several wanted a turn playing and were quite disappointed they could not play too. 
Here is a clip of her playing.

Thursday, March 15

Is it Spring or Summer?

The Calendar and the blooming Forsythia claim that it is Spring
 The Cherry Blossoms and singing birds think it is Spring
 The thermometer and the children think it is Summer

The Disappearing Egg

I started this experiment while over at a friend's house so that her girls could participate. 
I laid out our supplies and we talked about them.  I asked what the girls thought would happen when we poured the vinegar on the Tums.  They suggested it would melt.  I let the oldest girl pour and we all watched as the tums bubbled away.  Froggy made the momma proud by piping up that carbon dioxide was being released.

Next we examined the egg.  They talked about the hard smooth shell. We craked the egg to look more closely at the shell.   And we talked about the job of the shell for the egg.  I explained how their is calcium in the shell that makes it hard.  H.(age 7) piped in that there is also calcium in your bones.

Next we poured the vinegar over the eggs (one for each family).  The girls were so proud of being allowed to pour the vinegar.  Again I asked what they thought would happen.  First guess was float.  I focused them on the shell and they came back almost instantly that it would dissolve.  (See Mom- they are getting something out it). 
We checked on our eggs several times during the day.  We all were thrilled with how the bubbles clung to the egg shell.  We took the egg out at lunch time and passed it around.  The girls loved that they could see the bubbles on the egg even out of the vinegar. They rubbed and decreed it "dirty".  The look in their eyes when they realized that "dirt" was the dissolving shell was fantastic.

 This is the egg at approximately 24 hours.  The shell is completely gone and the egg feels like jello.  It was interesting to note that not only did the shell disappear but the egg swelled as well. It does not show well in the picture but it is a significant increase in size. Froggy needed to touch it so much that she broke it open.
I have to admit I am a shameless thief and this idea came lock, stock and barrel from Little Wonder Days. I strongly recommend you go take a look at her experiment since she took much better pictures than I did

Wednesday, March 14

Ancient Pottery

I love the way our science and history and art all tie together. This week at Learning Club we studied ancient Native American farming techniques including companion planting and natural fertilizers.  We used M&Ms as the different nutrients in the soil and the children as different plants.  It is amazing how much more goes in their brains when chocolate is involved. 

In art, the children got to make their own clay pots similar to the way Native Americans did hundreds of years ago. 
They started with a simple lump of clay, working it into a ball and then pushing their fingers in.  
Then gradually they widen and smoothed the bowl making the opening bigger turning the pot round in their hands.  It was neat watching the kids examine the texture of the clay and note how it changed as they worked with it.  They had to add tiny amounts of water to their creation as they worked to make it smooth.  The control involved in putting on the right amount of water took a great deal of concentration from Froggy.

Monday, March 12

  • Sunday - Pizza and Salad
  • Monday - Dinner out for Us (Meal to new mom - CrockPot Chicken Curry) Set beans to soak
  • Tuesday -  Bean Soup and Ezekial Bread (it looks strange but my friend says it is yummy so we will try it)
  • Wednesday - Sloppy Joes - Using leftover Pot Roast from Shabbos.
  • Vegan Vursday (yes I am trying to get back to more vegan meals) - Kasha Varnishka and Salad (note Make salad dressing) Set chicken to marinade
  • Shabbat - Aunt Adrian - Challah, Gefilte Fish Loaf, Roast Chicken, Cauliflower and squash, rice (if I am feeling adventurous it will be this. I really like this recipe but it is a bit fussy for Shabbat  If not it will just be a wild rice blend.) and chocolate cherry cheesecake (parve) for dessert.  This dessert is a perfect choice because it needs to be made in advance.

Sunday, March 11

Purim Pictures

 Delivering Mishlach Manot
 Costume Parade at Megillah Reading.  The theme this year was games.

 Making Purim Puppets
 Face Painting at the Carnival.  The teenager who did this was amazingly gifted as well as patient.  Froggy told her what she wanted and the girl sketched it as Froggy talked.,

More carnival fun.  I love this musical shoes.