Thursday, February 28, 2013

Home Depot Kid's Workshop

Last month's Valentine Holder.  Yes, ours ended up pink and purple.  Ha!
Hurrah for another Home Depot Kid's Workshop!  It's that time again, this Saturday is the FREE kid's activity at your local Home Depot.

From 9am-12pm your kids can make a wood Race Car.  They get to put it together, paint it and add stickers.  I'm guessing we'll have a pink and purple race car.

For more information go here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

(semi) Wordless Wednesday - Grandparents

My parents flew home on monday after a lovely 2 week visit.  We already miss them!

We kept very busy, doing the following:

Phoenix Zoo
Arizona Science Center (including the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit)
antique shopping
treasure hunting (thrift shop)
Renaissance Festival
wells fargo history museum
phoenix police museum
lunch with a favorite cousin

That's not even counting our regular schedule of dance classes, tumbling, birthday parties and other errands.

Whew. :)

Love you mom and dad!
Come back soon!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crockpot Quinoa Chicken Chili

I should have called this frozen ingredient chili.  I added frozen beans, frozen corn and frozen chicken.  Talk about easy prep!  It only took me about 7 minutes to assemble everything in the crockpot.  The recipe got a thumbs up from my husband and 5 year old, although my husband did lament that some of the texture of the quinoa was lost b/c it became soft after cooking all day.  Next time I make this recipe I may just cook the quinoa separately and then add it at the end.  I'll let you know if it works better.

Crockpot Quinoa Chicken Chili
1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
One (1) 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
4 cups frozen black beans (see recipe here) or 2 16oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups of frozen corn (or 1 can of corn, drained)
3.5 Cups chicken stock
2 large chicken breasts, frozen or thawed
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp chili powder

1. Place all of the ingredients into your crockpot (slow cooker) and cook for 8-9 hrs on low (less if you don't use frozen chicken).
2. Once the chicken is cooked shred it with a fork.  Add salt to taste.
3. Top with cheese and sour cream or any other topping that sound good.

this recipe was inspired by a recipe on queen bee coupons

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Daughter is a Hoarder

My 5 year old is a hoarder, or at least it appears that way.  She collects all kinds of little objects never mind their value.  She is as interested in the rocks from the backyard as she is in the dime she find on the street.  She collects ribbons, buttons, stickers and glittery bits of trash.

I catch her in my recycling bin all the time.  Seriously, all the time.  On Costco day the many boxes end up in all kinds of different places becoming helicopters, cars or puppet theaters.

Case in point.  Yesterday I looked over and saw this on the counter.  Ten minutes before I had put the empty tea box in the recycling.

She was making it into a treasure box.  A box that I am sure is in her bedroom now full of all kind of odds and ends.  

I was beginning to worry about this hoarding tendency until I compared notes with some other moms of 4-7 year old girls.  Turns out it is completely normal.  

Whew.  Close call.

Perhaps all of the emphasis on reduce-reuse-recycle is trickling down to our kids?

Do you have a recycling junkie/treasure hoarder too?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Free Museums in Phoenix

I haven't blogged as much the last couple of weeks because my parents have been in town visiting.  We've been out gallivanting around town every day doing lots of fun things tourist style!

One afternoon we visited two (FREE) downtown museums that were very kid friendly.  They were very close to each other, in fact you could park in between and walk to both as long as you keep your parking meter fed.  Here's where we went:

City of Phoenix Police Museum

My 5 year old's favorite part of the museum.

Checking out the Western Jail.
We had a personal tour by a wonderful tour guide named Sue.  She brought out a police shirt for my daughter to wear while we toured the museum.  So cool!

At the end of the tour the kids got FREE souvenirs and so did us grown-ups (a pen).  

cost: $1.50 for 1 hr on a meter (yikes!), museum is free (donations taken)
time: about an hour (including bathroom break)
Mon-Fri 9am-3pm 
Historic City Hall
17 South 2nd Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85003

Wells Fargo History Museum

Baby's favorite ride.  She asked to ride it over and over again.  Good thing it was free!

Checking out the huge soft horses.  They are pulling a real stagecoach that you can go into and "ride". You can push it back and forth from the outside to make the ride nice and wild.

My 5 year old's favorite activity was this puzzle.  She was trying to figure out how to fit all the people and the luggage on the stagecoach.

The kids and the grown-ups enjoyed the panning for gold computer game.  

The museum had a couple places where you could get yourself in a photograph that they print out and then also email you a copy.  You can put your face on money and stand in front of a big stagecoach.  Big fun for kids!  I picked up a few souvenirs at this museum, they weren't free but they were pretty cheap.  The museum does give kids FREE gold coins with a stagecoach on them.

cost: meter again but museum is free.  $2.50 for souvenirs (coloring book, stickers and paper pad)
time: about an hour
Mon-Fri 9-5pm
145 West Adams Street
Phoenix, AZ 85003
(602) 378-1852
(note: Wells Fargo has other museums as well in cities like Portland, OR and San Diego, CA)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Discovery Farm at the Phoenix Zoo

Today on Fisher Price Friday I'd like to show you around a life size playset.  It's the Little People Discovery Farm at the Phoenix Zoo here in Arizona.  This sweet little playground is designed for kids ages 1-5 and is a favorite spot for both of my kids at the zoo.  The Discovery Farm has a playground with shade (SO important here in Phoenix) and an area just outside with picnic benches.

We came across the Discovery Farm when my oldest was a little over 1 year old.  If you look closely in this photo she is holding the same little person figure in her hand that she is talking to.  How cute is that?

Here is my youngest at the same age as her sister in the photo above (taken in late Oct).  

One of the picnic tables outside.  They even have tiny little attached benches.

We went again this week, it was a busy day at the zoo (president's day) but we still had fun!


*note: Yes my baby is wearing the same outfit in October and again this week.  It's our "zoo" dress since it has wild animals along the bottom.  I have photos of her big sister wearing it when she was a baby at the zoo too. :)

UPDATE 2/28/2014: Sadly the Little People Discovery Farm is no longer at the Phoenix Zoo.  It was removed by Fisher Price in early 2014.  For more information look here.

Phoenix Zoo
455 North Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
Phone: 602.273.1341

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

(semi) Wordless Wednesday - Just Dance Kids

My 5 year old is quite the dancer.  She rocks it at her dance classes and at home playing my Wii Just Dance.  Unfortunately not all of the songs on Just Dance are super appropriate for the Pre-K set.  Let's just say that once she started singing "when I grow up I'm gonna have boobies" I knew that it was all over.  

So I went out that week to buy the Just Dance Kids version.

Old McDonald, The Monkey Dance, Holiday and Funkytown.

Now that's more like it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Downton Abbey - Season 3 Finale

Can we chat about Downton Abbey for just a bit?  If you haven't seen Season 3 or the finale then stop reading right now and come back after you've seen it.

You were warned, so no spoiler complaints.

As you know I am a fan.  I've blogged about my obsession interest a few times now.  I like to see myself as a tried-and-true fan but this season has tested me.  At times I have referred to it as "Downer Abbey" thanks to the unfortunate plot twists.  I think I prefer the lighter period and social class issues to the tragic deaths.  Anyone else?

But this Season Finale was the worst.  I had the advantage of knowing ahead what would happen at the end, otherwise I might have been horribly shocked like the many throngs of irate British fans who saw it first.  Of course they also had the disadvantage of watching this unfortunate episode right before Christmas as it was promoted as a Holiday special.  Talk about a bummer, the season ending with the death of a favorite and primary character!

I have done some behind-the-scenes reading so I learned that the reason for his removal from the show (and Sybil's too) was their wanting to leave the show.  They both believed there were greener pastures elsewhere.  Can you imagine?  Wanting to leave such a popular show?  Boggles the mind.

Bottom line, I'm not as excited about Season 4.  I can't imagine how this show will work without Matthew.  How can it not be a huge sad show week after week dealing with all the grief and loss?

Perhaps they will skip ahead a few years to avoid it?

Is anyone else oh-so disappointed?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Poppity Pop Car

Today on Fisher Price Friday I'd like to share another Jumbo Little People toy, the Poppity Pop Car #1011.  How cute is that name?  Makes me smile just to say it.

The Jumbo Little People were designed for younger children ages 6 to 24 months, needless to say this car is quite popular with my 18 month old.  The Poppity Pop Car was made from 1988-1992.  It came with the bear Jumbo figure that has a green body with a yellow butterfly on it.  The bear fits into a hole in the front of the car.  The car has blue wheels with butterflies on them and a plastic dome on the top.  The dome has colored balls and butterflies inside that pop when the wheels roll.

One side of the car has a bear with a butterfly on his finger.  The other side of the car has a bear holding a butterfly net.  Have you noticed a theme on this car yet?  Ha!

The back of the car has a orange and yellow plastic roller with more butterflies on them. The bottom said #1011 and Fisher Price a Division of the Quaker Oats Company.

For more Jumbo Little People check out the Discovery Cottage #136.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cloth Diapering a Toddler

Hanging out with some freshly dried cloth diapers.
My "baby" will be 19 months next week.  How quickly time flies!  We're going strong with cloth diapering but a few things have changed since she was a tiny newborn.

Until about a month ago I used this changing table for baby-girl.  It had wonderful storage but was taking up too much space and was also a bit of a safety issue since she kept trying to launch herself off of it!

Around the same time she was growing out of the table we were also running out of storage for our children's books.  So we swapped out the table and small bookshelf for a much larger Ikea piece of furniture (more on that later).  I was happy to get rid of the changing table but I still need a place to change her!

Here's what I came up with:

I slipped the changing pad under the armoire.  See the three baskets underneath, I use the one on the far right for diaper accessories (liners, extra diaper pail liner, etc).  The diaper pail (aka - step trash can) is on the right.

The big drawer is where I keep all the diapers, organized by type of course.  

My storage caddy is kept in the closet right behind and is in easy reach if I need water, diaper wipes or creams.

Here we are in action.  This works so well but before I know it that little baby-girl will be potty-training.  I'm in no hurry though!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cooking Wheat Berries - Perfect Salad Topper

Remember wheat berries?  Well we've had more local wheat berries pop up in our CSA boxes and I wanted to share my current favorite way to use them.  It's pretty simple, just soak/cook and then add to salads.  I also froze some to use later.  If you are detail oriented you may have noticed that one of the bags says "Farro Berries" not wheat berries.  I looked up Farro Berries and found that they are from the ancient grain Spelt, which some say is the best grain of them all.  It has higher nutrition than wheat flour and digests easily (works as a wheat alternative - low in gluten).  I haven't cooked mine yet, I'll let you know how the taste compares to the wheat berries.

Cooking Wheat Berries:
Soak wheat berries overnight (crucial!).  Drain and place 1 cup of wheat berries in a pot and add 2 1/2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until tender.  Drain and serve warm or refrigerate for use later.  

I cooked 1 lb at a time so that I could measure out 1 cup servings to freeze for later.  You can use wheat berries by itself as a snack, in salads or soups.  They are a great alternative to brown rice or barley.

Another Recipe Option is Wheat Berry and Bean Salad.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Neighborhood

Today on Fisher Price Friday I'd like to welcome you to the neighborhood.  The Little People Neighborhood #2551 was made from 1989-1990.  It is a rather large playset with many features and accessories, quite a few of them being exclusive to this set.  There are two sides to the playset, a red house and a yellow house.

Both house fronts have doors that open, many windows, shrubs, sidewalks and steps molded into the plastic bases.

The two house sides connect together without the tree house, but it connects to pegs on the side for storage.  The treehouse, yellow ladder and yellow door (that opens and shuts) are all exclusive to this set and are often missing or damaged (note my treehouse base has a piece missing on the left side).  

When opened the set becomes a big neighborhood complete with two houses, a tree house (connects the two pieces during play) and a backyard.

These are all of the neighborhood accessory pieces (not including the pool which is seen later).  There could be some differences in the family depending on the year made.  Also some variations in the colors of the furniture pieces.  Pictured are the 1989 family except for the boy, he is from the 1990 version.  In 1989 the boy was orange with brown hair.  Another change is that in 1990 the dog Lucky was deleted from the set.  The house came with two twin beds and one double, all having imprinted quilt patterns and pillows on them.  The blue beds have little teddy bears on them as well.  These beds were exclusive to the set. 

The neighborhood included a bathroom set and a kitchen set.  The bathroom has a toilet seat that flips up and down.  The kitchen has lithographs of a salad, a grill with two steaks on it and a sink full of soapy dishes.  

The kitchen looks like the kitchen from the #990 Play Family A-Frame house but they are actually quite different upon closer inspection (A-Frame connected on the left, neighborhood kitchen sitting on the right).  The A-Frame kitchen is slightly smaller, has a rounded refrigerator, much smaller counter on the right and different lithographs/molded accessories in the back.  I had heard before that it was the same piece re-made for the neighborhood set but that is not accurate as you can see!

Now to the outside of the set.  The yellow house has an attached backyard complete with in ground pool, basketball court, picnic table and grill.  The whole yard slides nicely under the other house when the set is closed.  The basketball court has a ball (connected by a string) that can get into the "hoop" via the yellow tab on the base.  

The blue pool is another exclusive to this set.  It is removable and therefore often missing. You can also see the picnic table and grill in the molded pool deck.

A very fun feature of this set is the automatic door opener.  Yes, that's right it opens automatically when the car drives over a little lever (seen right behind the front tire in the photo).  My daughters love this garage door!

Another interesting feature is the trashcan on the side of the house.  There is a hole in the deck above and a little person (particularly the boy or girl) can slip down the hole and into the can.  Then when you push the yellow lever (to the left of the bush) it pops up the can lid and the little person comes out.  

Now to the inside of the house.  The red house has two floors with lithographs on 3 sides.  

The upstairs has a lithograph of a desk with wrapped presents on the top and a kitten reaching for the ribbons.  Also a potted plant, wood chair with a sock hanging off it and a wall with flowered wallpaper.  Downstairs there is a large stone fireplace with a roaring fire, fireplace tools and a couple potted plants.

The downstairs floor has a large detailed lithograph of a wood floor, two rugs, stone (connected to the fireplace) and wood logs.  There is also a cat curled on the floor rug, boots by the door and a book and pillows under the window.

The other side of the room has a entertainment center complete with television set (showing two little people of course), records and stereo equipment.  There is a large picture of a beach with umbrellas and another potted plant.

Now to the yellow house.  The downstairs has a lithograph of a kitchen hutch complete with china, a fruit basket, stool, lamp and yet another potted plant.  This house has lots of plants!  The floor is a lithograph of tile.

The other side of the first floor has a lithograph of a laundry room.  The laundry room has a ironing board, iron, broom, folded clothes, soap and more cupboards.  And of course the front loading washer/dryer.  This side of the floor also has a rug on the tile floor.

Upstairs has only one lithograph.  This one is of a child's bedroom with a dresser, lamp, toys and paintings.  I especially love that there are some familiar vintage Fisher Price toys on the wall including the #627 Rock a Stack, #2581 Express Train and #2017 Pull Along Plane.  The floor of the bedroom has wood planks molded into the brown plastic.  The roof has a white skylight that opens.

Whew, that was a lot of photos but as you can see there is quite a bit to show!  I hope you enjoyed the tour!