Camping with our Kiddo


As Claire is getting older, we’re finding it easier and easier to camp with her – less stuff to bring and definitely less worrying about what she’s going to cram in her mouth next -- oh dear God, did she eat ANOTHER bug!  Our stash of kid stuff seemed huge last year (see here and here), but we pared things down this year and stuck to a  few choice toys and her stroller.


Claire is still too young for the motorbikes and trap field so we stuck close to camp playing with friends, chasing balls and collecting creepy crawlies. We whipped up some homemade playdoh a few days before the trapshoot following this very simple, no-cook recipe here. I got the kids into creating these playdoh people - what a hit! Even the adults got into sculpting them! The heads on a stick were a bit odd for sure, but no one found it too macabre! Perhaps next time we'll upgrade to some popsicle stick bodies.

Step One – Get a nice hunk of play doh and shape it into a round ball

Step Two – Gather bits of nature (a quote from my model above) to create facial features. We got a nice botany lesson from Ara as we found bristly weeds for eyebrows and mustaches – thanks!
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Mount your people to sticks and take VERY creative family photo, note the family pig…very cute:


I'm linking this post up to The Play Academy over at Nuture Store.


Coloring the Garden


Claire and I tackled a little paint project before dinner yesterday. The flowers in the garden might be wilting but we’ll still have some color to enjoy thanks to Claire’s painted rock. Isn’t it gorgeous? Painted hands are happy hands in this house!





Five hundred and eighty nine – the number of photos taken in just over 3 days while camping labor day weekend.

Obviously they won’t all fit in one post…so here are just a couple of my favorites, I’ll post more through the week!


Claire and Kelsie picking flowers in the morning dew (the fog – it’ll burn off!)


Lisa with her girls Kelsie and Jordan


Our gourmet meal of crab cakes and salad on day 2


A trio of coloring friends and Claire with Ginny



Excitement in the Living Room

I’ve torn my rotator cuff somehow and have been grounded from driving while on some drugs that make me just a bit loopy. Not being able to lift my arm up has been a challenge, but keeping Claire occupied hasn’t been too difficult. Earlier in the week we collected TONS of acorns outside in a wicker basket and when Claire woke up from her nap she found this:

Acorns – say it outloud – do you say “egg-corns” or “a-corns?” Just wondering…it’s a bone of contention around here and I know I’m right regardless of how this word is spelled ;-)
Oooh…someone is EXCITED and grabbing their chair for a closer look:


First we worked with some tongs and transferred the acorns to a basket. I got the idea from DSC_0096a Montessori preschool lesson where students transfer cotton balls to various containers with tongs.

My tongs were a bit tough for Claire’s tiny hands to handle so after a few tries with the tongs, I gave her a tablespoon and she went to town transferring the acorns one at a time into a shallow ice cube tray.

Claire really took her work seriously, just look at the concentration in her face in this shot:


Good fun that lasted for HOURS. The acorns are still in the living room and we might make a wreath from them or perhaps a meal!  I’m thinking of trying the honeyed acorns, although the griddle cakes are running a close second….yum.  Foraged food from our own yard, how cool!


Pretty in (Beet) Pink

A supper of spaghetti turned into a colorful mustache as Claire ate her fill and demanded more sustenance last night.  I was out of pasta and offered her some roasted beets which she had turned down earlier.

DSC_0087Boy were they a hit this time around! Look at her colorful face. Interestingly, this is the first time she’s squinched her face together in a grin when I asked her to “show youd smile.” To get Claire smiling in most pictures I just tickle her or make a silly face…or catch her laughing for the most natural look. I just wish this picture wasn’t so blurry – darn night time flash shots!

Make sure to look through the full album below, there are some really cute shots of her teeth covered in beets :-) Now that Claire is so interested in cooking with me, I’m going to start posting some recipes for things we’ve made together – starting with these beets.

I had no idea what to do with beets so I flipped open my trusty cookbook (Nourishing Traditions) and found a recipe for roasted beets. I baked them (unpeeled) in the oven at 250 for 2 hours as directed but found they were still too tough. I upped the heat to 350 for another half an hour at which point the beets were soft, super sweet and easy to peel. There’s a great soup recipe I’m going to try next time we hit the farmer’s market (of course I cut and paste this recipe ages ago and have no clue the source, tsk tsk, I know)

Chilled Beet Soup w/ Potato

2 onions, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 pounds beets, diced and peeled
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
8 cups of water or stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons superfine (caster) sugar
6 medium potatoes, washed and not peeled
sour cream to garnish if you care for it

Place the onions, celery, carrot, and beet in a large saucepan and cover with the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for two hours or until the beet is completely softened. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Transfer to a food processor and puree until very thin. If the soup is too thick for your taste, add a bit of water.

Chill the soup overnight.

The next day, add the lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. The soup must have a sweet/sour balance. In a large pan covered with salted water, boil the potatoes until soft. Remove and halve them. Pour the could soup into bowls, put two hot potato halves in the middle of each bowl and add a spoonful of sour cream.


Just Hangin’ Around

I worked so hard to get this picture of Claire and Isabella hanging on the monkey bars together…I think it took about 20 takes…just as Claire would start hanging Bella would jump off and vice versa. Above is the closest I could get to a tandem hang. You should of seen the girls today (this photo is from a few weeks ago) they were hanging and swinging like little monkeys!
It's really quite amazing to see how strong their little arms and core muscles are. There are a few more “hang time” photos below and some pics of the girls chowing down on some strawberry smash lollipops Lauren brought along.

View Just Hangin' Around

Claire doesn’t seem to have inherited my sweet tooth, she usually takes a few licks and passes her sucker along to me (yum!) Today she was eating squirts of mustard on a spoon right out of the fridge. Yes, she’s definitely a strange one.


A Book-Loving Gardeners Dream Come True

I’m convinced that sometimes things happen for a reason…an unexpected detour while traveling turned up a great place to visit.

DSC_0061After a long couple of days on the road visiting with family and dropping my sister off at her house in upstate NY, I was coming home and found myself too drowsy to drive safely. I’ve heard of too many instances of people getting into accidents after falling asleep at the wheel and the multiple cups of coffee and roadside calisthenics just weren’t waking me up (if you live outside of Binghamton consider this my apology for doing jumping jacks and jogging around my car like an idiot in front of your house).

I called the ever reliable husband to find me a cheap place to spend the night and settled in to take a much needed rest in Binghamton, NY…thank you Comfort Inn – your beds were AWESOME and $59 bucks for a room in a quiet stretch of town was much appreciated!

DSC_0035 DSC_0033 DSC_0049 I’ve been to Binghamton before when I was 11 or 12 – we’ve got some family friends in the city and I remembered hitting up this great carousel in Ross Park and I figured I’d take Claire for a romp through the park and then hit the road to continue our journey home. DSC_0059

Alas, the carousel was shut down but I found this GEM of a garden that you must absolutely visit if you have children:

The Story Garden at the Binghamton Discovery Center

That’s their official website above,  but I really liked the article here DSC_0052by Leslie McGuire who gave tons of details about each of the vignettes found in the garden. You can see in my pictures that there are separate areas in the garden broken down by theme (ie: The Friendship Garden, The Determination Garden, The Adventure Garden). We visited each of them and Claire LOVED it. The whole story garden is a very manageable and toddler-friendly three quarters of an acre and each “room” features a children’s story come to life. Little mailboxes filled with related children’s literature are scattered throughout, although Claire was too eager to climb and interact with the gardens to sit and read...but that’s what is great about this place, there is tons of flexibility in how to experience everything!

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At nearly 2 years old, Claire adored the sculptures-especially the little bears while she played Goldilocks; the little houses were adorable and she DSC_0043climbed, jumped and explored for a good 2 hours. I imagine an older child would recognize more of the story elements and appreciate this place even more!

With the Ross Park Zoo, on the other side of the park (maybe 1/4 of a mile?) and the Discovery Center (a hands on children’s museum) across the parking lot, there are 3 great DSC_0041attractions in one place. Can you beat it?

Oh! Did I mention the story garden and carousel ride are F-R-E-E, what a great deal for a lovely afternoon. I really wished we lived a bit closer, this is somewhere I could visit at least once a month, especially since the children are encouraged to help in the veggie garden and there are weekly story read alouds throughout the gardens.

   Pack your bags. Go. I promise you won’t regret it.



Posting Montage – AKA Call Me A Cheater-pants

Ok ok…I get the hint. Here are some new pics for all you witty commentors.

I’m too busy to write a lengthy post (camping trip to prep for this weekend), dinner to cook, toddler to chase…you know how it is) but here’s a catch up post showing what we’ve been up to these past couple of weeks.

We’ve welcomed a new kitten into our home. Dan came up with the name Walter and its stuck.  Walter finds the oddest places to hang out and he and Claire are getting on pretty well!

We’ve picked and quickly eaten the last of the harvest from the blackberry bushes on the side of the house. I have no idea how they go so big so quickly and no, Dan did not get to enjoy any of these. You snooze, you lose…I myself barely ate any as Claire gobbled them up faster than I could pick them.

We cooked some delicious tapas for the annual party at the grands’ house and Claire put her Pat-A-Cake skills to good use helping to ROLL out the dough. The original plan was to bake these (a savory version) but since we couldn’t get lollipop sticks at the grocery store we made tiny little pies instead.

Cousin Aidan came down from Boston for the Tapas party and Claire attempted to entertain him by shaking all his toys very close to his face while saying “baby baby baby!” Aidan stuck his tongue out a lot which Claire found pretty funny.

Ok! August blog posts are officially caught up. Click “Full Album” above to see the images larger and view a few additional ones.