Fruit and Veggie Dyed Eggs

April 2, 2010

I’ve always wanted to try making natural egg dye, and when I saw the how-to article by Lee Svitak Dean in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, I decided to give it a go.  The dying part involves boiling, so is best done by a parent, but your child will have fun wrapping the dyed eggs in onion skins and rubbing them with colorful spices!  I cleaned out my freezer and found frostbitten blueberries and chopped spinach to use for two of my dyes.  A head of red cabbage and bottle of curry worked for the other two.  Boil colorful fruit, vegetables and spices with 4-8 cups water and a few Tbs. of white vinegar.  When the water is boiling, add raw eggs and boil for 10 minutes. 

The pigment in the fruits and veggies will be absorbed by the egg’s porous surface as they cook.  Let sit until cool.  You can chill them in the dye over night for more intense color.  Then, wrap the wet eggs in onion skins or rub with paprika for yellow.  We also smeared blueberries and sprinkled sea salt on our eggs.   Experiment with different dyes!

 We had the best luck with blueberries, curry and red cabbage.  Spinach didn’t work so well.  What worked best for you?  Don’t forget to eat your creations.  Hard-boiled eggs make a great snack!

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar Project

March 29, 2010

Using construction paper, egg cartons, coffee filters, and your recycled “junk” bin or craft bin, your child can take a butterfly all the way from egg to wings.

We cut out leaves and glued puffy balls on as caterpillar eggs, but my daughter’s friend used a green feather as a leaf and your child could use anything they want as an egg (crumpled up aluminum foil?)  Next, the kids created caterpillars from egg cartons I helped them cut up.  They used tissue paper, pipe cleaners and googly eyes, but it would work just as well to use markers if you don’t have art supplies!  They taped paper into a cone to make a chrysalis and made butterflies from coffee filters and paper and corks.  I’m not giving specific directions because this project is all about imagination.

When they were finished, the kids tucked their butterflies into the cocoons, put the caterpillars in next to them, and pretended the butterflies were hatching out.  They thought it was pretty cool, but making them was the best part.  If you have the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, these would make great props so your child could act out the story as you read it! 

 

It’s also a great way to teach them about metamorphosis.   Have fun!

Magazine/Wrapping Paper Beads

March 21, 2010

 

Before the days of plastic, foamy, pre-cut, pre-designed craft projects, there were the 70s, when I was a kid.  We made paper-maché piñatas, twine macramé plant-holders and did lots of art projects using objects from nature or things that we had around the house. They weren’t always beautiful, but it was lots of fun making them.

I love the idea of recycling things into art, for both environmental and financial reasons. Who hasn’t walked into a craft store and spent a ridiculous amount of money on a bunch of things that will never break down in a landfill?

If you haven’t already, you should create a “junk box” for your child to fill with things that have potential to become great art projects. Find a container that you already have around the house and you and your child can fill it with colorful magazines, old buttons and crayons, corks, bottle caps, ribbons, Popsicle sticks, wrapping paper and cloth scraps, cardboard jewelry boxes or pretty bottles-anything that you or your child see potential in. Try to see the possibilities in the things you normally throw away.

One childhood project that I remember, and re-created with my kids (4, 7 and 9years old), is making magazine beads. My older children loved it and my four year old had a great time just squeezing glue onto the newspaper we were working on.  All you’ll need are scissors, cardboard (optional), magazines, glue and pencils, straws or wooden skewers.

First, cut out a cardboard template in the shape of a long triangle about one inch wide at the bottom and about 8 to 11 inches long. Use the template to trace triangles on colorful magazine pages or old wrapping paper. Have your child cut the triangles out, or help them do it.  (You can also just guess and free-hand the triangles, which is what I did.) Use a glue stick to put glue on the back of the triangle, but try to leave the bottom inch or so of the wide base of the triangle glue-free. Then, have your child wrap the paper tightly, starting with the base, around some sort of stick (we used pens, straws, pencils and wooden skewers with the sharp ends broken off.) You may have to glue the tip of the triangle down when you’re done. Finally, just slide the “bead” off of the stick and you are done!

 

Older children will do fine with skewers, but younger ones may be more successful with pens or pencils. Your child can use the beads to make garlands, necklaces, bracelets, or ever glue them tightly side-by-side to an old picture frame to make it new!

Just remember, it’s the process that’s important, not perfection. Remind your child that imperfect things much more interesting than perfect ones!

New spring projects on the way soon!  Keep posted!


Leaving the Bubble

March 17, 2010

We all tend to live in bubbles, and as moms, we get stuck circling our bubbles over and over again, between school and the grocery store and sports practice and church.  The more you stay in your bubble, the harder it gets to leave it.  But, if you get out and go to the city, or the farm, or a museum or nature center, you will realize how great it is for you and your kids to have a change of scenery.

If you live in the Twin Cities and you have kids, the Midtown Global Market (MCM) should be on your destination list.  Not only can you taste food from all over the world, there are shops with interesting wares from everywhere.  It reminds me of the Cost Plus that was in San Francisco in the 70s, and how I’d spend hours wandering through the aisles, smelling cinnamon and incense, trying to decide whether to spend my dollar on a wooden elephant or a mood ring.

Every Wednesday, during the winter, the MCM  hosts “Wee Wednesday”, with activities for kids and special guests from 10-1.  Kids also eat free at most of the restaurants with the purchase of an adult meal and the food is AMAZING!  Next Wednesday is the last Wee Wed. of the year until next fall, and the Minnesota Zoo will be there with some animals.  Put it on your calendar!  I’ve done hands-on-science there a few times, we’ve heard great music and we met the Minnesota Twins mascot.  My four-year old loves going there and I alway leave with a bag of some of the best produce in town from The Produce Exchange and some bread and pastries from The Salty Tart.  Parking is easy in their new ramp across the street and is validated with any purchase.

Last night, Molly, of Tastebud Tart, hosted our Blog Pantry Event  at  MGM’s “A La Salsa” , where I met and reconnected with many local women bloggers over chips and margaritas.   One of the fabulous women I met is Kris Ann of LoveFeastTable.com, who will soon be blogging for shopmama.com!  I absolutely loved her and can’t wait to have her blogging here with me! 

Kris Anne and me (both wearing Hot Mama.)  To see more photos of the event, you can click here.

I’m going to try to leave “the bubble” more often this month.  The Russian Museum is next on my list, but today it’s beautiful outside, so I’m taking my four-year old out to rake the garden and see what’s popping up!

Shamrocks and Heartstrings

March 11, 2010

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Your kids can create a lovely garland of hearts or shamrocks to adorn your living space.  In the spring, we like to liven up our breakfast booth by stringing hearts or shamrocks, depending on the holiday.  All you need is construction paper, scissors, string and a hole punch.  It’s pretty self-explanatory.  I folded the paper and drew the outline for my four year old, who loves to cut and cut and cut.  My son, who is nine, could make the hearts, punch the holes and put them on the string.  He also figured out how long the strings should be. 

We found that it is easiest to just put all of the hearts or shamrocks on the string, put the string up and then slide the hearts into position.  The kitchen string (for tying meat) works well, because the construction paper won’t slide on it and the hearts stay in place, but you could probably use yarn or any other string. 

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 It’s nice to have some extra color around at this time of the year!

Imagination Fair

March 10, 2010

Our school’s Imagination Fair is one of my kids’ favorite events of the year.  I love it too.  One of the best things about this gathering is that it is not a competition.  I also love that there are no rules and guidelines.  My kids spend their days following rules and competing against others, whether it is in school or in sports.  For the Imagination Fair, kids simply create, demonstrate, or show off something that interests them and then have a great time walking around and checking out everyone else’s projects. 

Sugar cube castles towered over posters about magnets, jars full of home-grown crystals and Lego creations.  There were plastic sharks wired to foam board, a cardboard reproduction of the Olympics half-pipe and a poster about money of the world.  You could pet a bunny or “test your knowledge” to win a sucker.  My four-year old especially loved the circut table, where one boy had inventions that spun and beeped when you made electrical connections.

I’m thinking of putting an “Imagination Fair” together this summer, in my back yard, for the neighborhood kids.   What better way to let kids be kids?

Sweet (and Salty) Lava Lamps

March 3, 2010

Pull out a jar, a bottle of vegetable oil, some food coloring, salt, sugar, and water to mix up this easy experiment! 

Fill the jar about halfway up with water and add a few drops of food coloring for contrast.  Add about half as much vegetable oil to the jar and watch it float to the top.  Now, a spoonful at a time, add salt to the jar.  The salt will pull some of the oil down with it, but will release the oil as it dissolves and the oil will float back to the top.  This will make your science experiment look like a real lava lamp.  Keep adding salt to make it keep working.  Now, try adding sugar or even sand. Kosher salt worked really well!

What worked the best for you?  Do you know why oil floats to the top of the water?  Email me your answers in the comments section at http://kitchenpantryscientist.com for a chance to win a KitchenPantryScientist.com tee shirt (size M.)  I’ll do a drawing for a winner in two weeks!

Creating Health: Simple, Good and Local

February 27, 2010

 

                                Jon Radle shares his culinary secrets with Trish of OffCamerawithTrish.com

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to attend Simple, Good, and Tasty‘s February local food event at Grand Cafe in Minneapolis with my friend Jennifer of Unplannedcooking.com. As we feasted on cassoulet prepared with locally raised duck from Au Bon Canard and house made sausage by Grand Cafe’s chef Jon Radle, I talked with one of my tablemates about the rooftop and community gardens she’s working hard to create.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  

As a mother, it is important to me to be aware of not only what my children are eating, but where our food comes from.  I try to buy food raised by people who take good care of the land and treat animals humanely.  If possible, I buy food that hasn’t had to travel from too far away, since transporting foods burns lots of fossil fuel, which pollutes the air we all breathe.  I also love supporting local farmers.  My friend Megan from Sprout.mn has started a green/organic/local online directory for the Twin Cities that is an amazing resource- go to http://sprout.mn to check it out! 

Last week, I also attended an event for bloggers at the Cub Foods store in Apple Valley, MN last week.  Most of the questions I asked had to do with where their food came from, how much of it was organic and how they handled their ground beef selection (see my Kitchen Pantry Scientist post to read more about ground beef fillers.)  I was happy to hear that they have a large organic food section and buy produce locally when they can.  They also gave me a delicious dark chocolate almond bar made by Cub Food’s own organic label, Wild Harvest.  

As women and mothers, we are the biggest consumers in the grocery store industry, among others, and this gives us the power to demand that healthy, local food is readily available.  The more local, healthy, organic food we buy, the cheaper it will become and the more farmers will grow it, which will be good for the environment, which will be good for our children…

We have the power.  Let’s use it to make the world a healthier place for everyone!

Shakermadoodle Fun

February 23, 2010

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I asked my daughter what she would call this project, and she instantly replied “a shakermadoodle.”  My three and six year old daughters had a terrific time making their shakermadoodles, which were inspired by an article I saw in a magazine.  (I think it was Parent and Child magazine.)  They are still adding trinkets to it as I type (singleton Polly Pocket shoes, broken Star Wars toys, and other tiny useless junk that they refuse to throw away.)

You will need a plastic bottle,  enough rice or popcorn to fill it, and any tiny non-precious objects your child can find to put in the bottle.  I saw this as an opportunity to clean out the junk drawer, but we also raided our craft bin for old buttons, ribbon and beads.  Small plastic animals, cars or dinosaurs would be great too, if they fit through the mouth of the bottle and your child doesn’t mind.  Small birthday party favors and beads from broken bracelets can finally find a new home!  

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We used a Gatorade bottle from our recycling bin since it had a nice, wide mouth, but you can use any plastic bottle.  Just make sure it’s dry, so the grain doesn’t mold!  Fill the bottle most of the way to the top with rice or popcorn.  Then have your child add the objects they have collected, close the bottle and shake it up.  When they are finished adding things, you can fill the bottle with more rice or popcorn, but don’t fill it to the top or the grain won’t be able to move around freely.  Seal it with duct tape. 

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Kids will remember the things they put in the bottle and have fun trying to locate them.  It’s a great toy to throw in the car for a fussy child emergency!  You could even add a few things that remind them of you, if you want to make it a toy to help with separation anxiety.

Creating Networks

February 19, 2010

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to meet up with a group of women bloggers from the Twin Cities at The Blog Pantry’s networking event at Edina’s Ciao Bella.  Food bloggers Kate in the Kitchen, The Tastebud Tart, Cafe Cyan and Unplanned Cooking were there, alongside weight-loss blogger and inspiration Prior Fat Girl and diet and lifestyle consultant Mary Langfield.  From the style and fashion blogging world, we had BeautyBets and green-living guru Megan from Sprout.mn also joined us.  MomCulture told us about her lastest  interviews with hip artists and mom bloggers Luther Liz and The Recovering Procrastinator were there toting their cute little ones. Sairey of Irely (foxy no-line panties) was there, as was Little Bean Photo and Fox’s Trish Van Pilsum of Off Camera with Trish.   General Mills sent some great samples our way and we were set for a night of fun and networking. 

Just click on the names to check out the blogs and websites these amazing women have created.  Hopefully, you’ll be as inspired by these women and their strong, unique voices as I am!  (Maybe you’ll even decide to start a blog of your own.)