Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: The Breath of God

 This was such a great book.  I was captured and enthralled from the first page, and could think of very little else for the days it took me me to read it.  Finally, I gave up sleeping one night to stay up until well past midnight to finish it.

I suppose this isn't much of a book review except to tell you to read the book.  It is knowledgeable about religions, and India and Bhutan, and links together differing plot lines in a nice way.  I really enjoyed it-- especially since it didn't give me any parenting advice. Ha. Pin It

Happy Halloween (and our Farm Visit)

Every good trip begins with a potty stop.  We've started  bringing a potty in the car with us and it is a great innovation.
He is not so interested in the sheep.
The old tractors, on the other hand, are interesting.
An old tractor to climb on.
And what is it about kids and pumpkins???
The baby has a few words now, and one is "pumpkin!" 
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fun Local Bay Area/ Lamorinda Things to do with Grandparents in Town

Little Farm

Rock City

In our Area
  • Mt. Diablo Rock City - climb on the rocks and eat a picnic. Drive to the summit after.
  • Lafayette Reservoir Hike and Playground 
  • Lafayette Reservoir Boat Rental - rowboats or paddle boats
  • Heather Farms 
  • Farmer's Markets - Saturday Orinda (and playground - but March to November only), Sunday Walnut Creek or Moraga -listen to live music while eating pastries and coffee, then get some produce for mom and dad
  • BART to Rockridge, go to Rockridge Kids toy store and then Cactus for a burrito
  • Lindsay Wildlife Museum and Larkey Park in Walnut Creek - a hospital for rescued local animals with educational programs. Backs up onto Larkey Park.
  • Have lunch in the Whole Foods Parking Lot in Lafayette. They even have heaters on the patio.
  • Want something more formal? Try Va Da Vie in Walnut Creek or Postino in Lafayette.
  • Better yet? Cook a meal together at home: set the table, light some candles, give everyone jobs, and [have them] do the dishes.
  • What could be better than that? Order pizza to be delivered from Bonfire in Orinda and go on a date and leave them home to babysit the kids.
Train Town
Train Town
Lafayette Reservoir

Pretty Close

Lafayette Reservoir (fishing off a rented rowboat)

A Bit of a Drive
  • Tilden Park Little Farm - an actual working farm- free to visit but bring celery and lettuce to feed the animals
  • Tilden Park Carousel - an historic merry go round set in the trees
  • Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland - thought-provoking and cool displays, movies, classes, and occasional nighttime telescope viewings. Don't miss the outdoor space with a turtle in a pond when you need a break.
  • Children's Fairyland Oakland - Disneyland was modeled after this place
  • Ferry Ride into San Francisco from Oakland or Alameda then ride the cable cars
  • Oakland Zoo - don't miss the kids' area and the little train ride
  • California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco - newly remodeled
  • San Francisco Zoo - the Zoo also has a little train ride and a play structure
  • Ocean Beach and The Beach Chalet - drive past the herd of buffalo in the park if you have extra time 
  • Habitot Berkeley - indoor hands-on exhibits for ages 1-5. Close to BART station if you want to ride in (but there is a transfer involved).
  • Oakland A's or SF Giants Baseball - BART goes right to the coliseum and MUNI to AT&T Park.  Last minute tickets are often available for the A's that are quite inexpensive.
  • Oakland Raiders Football Game - don't forget to wear black and take BART to the game.
  • Tilden Park Carousel
  • MOCHA Oakland - messy kids' indoor playspace

Oakland Zoo

A Drive
  • Train Town in Sonoma then lunch at a Vineyard- little train ride that stops in a miniature gold rush town, then continues on. Also has rides and is close to nice restaurants and wine tasting
  • Mt. Tamalpias Tourist Club - check the website for hours
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito 
  • Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito - a hospital for rescued marine mammals with educational programs
  • Santa Cruz - amusement park rides on the boardwalk and nice restaurants in town
  • Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton (near Santa Cruz) - full-size steam train with two routes to choose from (the trees or the beach).
  • Marin Headlands - driving to Sausalito
  • Ano Nuevo State Park - the elephant seals' breeding ground from mid-December through March. 

Ano Nuevo

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Crock Pots Aren't Dull (Slow Cooker Recommendations)

We love crock pots. We have two.  A small and a large one.  They are both stainless on the outside and ceramic on the inside, so they are totally safe as far as BPA, etc. 

But I love the smaller one MORE.  Here it is.  For $19.99, it is an awesome little thing. I prefer it to the gigantic one because every time I cook in  one I want to fill it up.  Then, in the big one, we couldn't possibly ever eat it all.  The small one keeps me in check, plus we get 2 good meals out if it (and a lunch or two sometimes, too).  

If you don't like my recommendation, then I would look for one with a timer on it... so it switches to "warm" when the cooking is over (the one I just recommended doesn't, but I adore its simplicity). 

We just started doing stock in our (big) one, and making banana bread in the (small) one, and roasting a whole chicken w/o liquid in the (small) one.  Chili and stew are the best, though.... soup, too....

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DIY Child's Ergo Baby Doll Carrier Tutorial

This was super easy to make and is a front and back baby doll carrier.  It isn't exactly an Ergo, because it doesn't have a waistband and the straps cross.   But the little guy doesn't seem to mind (They sell Ergo doll carriers if yours does!).

To make it, I measured across his body and hemmed that piece of fabric (the yellow fleece on the top and bottom are for decoration only- at the wearer's insistence).  I then added a pocket and label.

Then I cut the strap fabric across the width of the piece I had.  I then held it against his body again with the baby inside.  I pinned the straps on and crossed them behind his back.  Then I stitched them on.  I did a variant of a box stitch, but it would hold with far less.  I didn't hem the straps because fleece doesn't fall apart at the seams.

Then I measured for snaps and added them, making sure to hide additional layers of fabric at the snap locations so they wouldn't pull through when being used.

When I put it on him, he wanted it to also be a back carrier- like my Ergo.  Love it!
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See this project again here.
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Homemade Halloween Decorations

To make the pumpkins, we took orange construction paper and cut pumpkin shapes, then taped brown stems on them.  The kids then colored them with markers and crayons.

Then we made little white pumpkins and gourds by cutting the shape out and having the kids color them.

They LOVE pumpkins and gourds.  We have discovered they float, plus we weigh them and stack them and spin them and dip them in yogurt...

We tried to keep the markers on the paper...

Then we tied some ribbon on the porch, and taped some gourds on one strand and pumpkins on another.

Here is our window box display.

Happy Halloween!!
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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Slow Cooker Banana Bread and Book Review: Paleo Slow Cooking

  This recipe is from Paleo Slow Cooking and I made it because I was curious how breads work in the slow cooker.

I was pleasantly surprised.  It wasn't pretty, but was delicious. And she quite cleverly used parchment paper to protect the crock and get it out easily.

The little guy liked it, too.

The rest of the book I am not too sure about. Many of the recipes make use of premade spice mixes or other premixed ingredients, which isn't all that helpful to me.  She also spends a lot of time on her story, and her family, which is fine but I would rather have more in the way of how to cook, not why to eat Paleo or why she eats Paleo.  It is pretty, though, and the glossy pages and photos make for a nice counter top book (though I would prefer one I want to keep using!).
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Just Like Dad Flannel Robe from Sewing For Boys size 4/5

This is my second pass at this robe (here is the first).  This time, it is the size 4/5 for my 5T guy and it is a bit big.

You can see the belt loops are a bit low.

It was fine to make it- save all my same complaints from last time (about the front being in 2 pieces and forgetting about the patch pockets until the end).

My not-so-little guy had a complaint and a fix this time, though.  He said the other belt is hard for him because he can't tie knots by himself yet.

So he had us make two belts, one to tie and one to snap closed.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Delicious Coconut Cake GF Sugar Free

This recipe made a delicious gluten-free and sugar-free birthday cake. It was moist and delicious. We halved the recipe and still made two layers.  Had we not done this, it may have been too thick.  Then we used raw cream (with a drop of honey and a drop of vanilla) to make whipped cream for the frosting, and sliced strawberries onto the frosting. Yum! Happy birthday to me!

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Indian Summer

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