Friday, August 31, 2012

Family Fridays: 35 Weeks (Pregnancy Update)

I am doing fine and have no real health problems, but I am definitely getting to the part of the pregnancy where I am big and slow. I can still do most things just fine, but slower. Nate and the boys have been helping me with even more things around the house again. On the upside, I haven't felt nauseous for quite a while.

I had a prenatal visit today and everything was fine and boring, which is actually a really good thing at this point. The only funny thing was that they told me my baby was too active, so I should sleep on my left side. Sleeping on the left side is the best for blood flow, and the baby doesn't like it when I lay on my back like at the prenatal visit, so it gets mad and starts kicking. However, I'm not sure a baby could really be too active or that laying on the left side will make it less so. Oh well, at least someone is small and fast, even if it isn't me.

We also pretty much finished up getting ready for baby this week. I finished stocking the freezer. Some friends came over to find out all they needed to know to watch the boys during D-day. I finished up sewing some new cloth diapers, wipes, and small covers for the new baby. And we picked up disposable diapers, special snacks, and the last few other things we'll all need around D-day. I'm glad because I really wanted to be basically ready before my husband heads back to classes next week. We'll all be really glad to meet the new baby on the outside in a few weeks.

Linking up to My Pregnancy Journal at My Joy-Filled Life.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

DIY Grape Popsicles

This is a really simple idea, but it has become one of the boys most loved treats recently. Basically you stick grapes on a skewer or chopstick and put it in the freezer until frozen. That is it. Then eat, and smile that you are enjoying an all fruit treat.

Another great all fruit treat is 1 ingredient "ice cream." We've been enjoying this a lot recently too.

Friday, August 24, 2012

DIY Marshmallows (Corn Syrup and Egg white Free)

I talked about how we made our own marshmallows for s'mores a little while ago and now I'm getting around to posting the recipe I used. I wanted a recipe that didn't use any corn syrup and I basically ended up following the recipe from here. I did end up making a couple of minor adjustments to the process and am including more pictures of the process. I found I had to boil the sugar syrup longer, probably because we are at high altitude. We also had to beat the mixture longer to get it to the right consistency, but  that is because we only have a crank mixture. If you had a stand mixer this recipe would really require very little hands on time, just some monitoring really.

One other cool thing we discovered was that homemade marshmallows don't catch on fire and burn like commercial ones. They also fly across the room really well and make the best foam in hot cocoa that I've ever seen from a marshmallow.

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or other flavored extract, mint is also really good)
  • Prepared baking pan
  • Butter for greasing pan and powdered sugar for coating pan and marshmallows
  1. Butter and coat a 8x8 pan with powdered sugar. I used a silicone pan, but if using a regular baking pan you will probably want to put waxed paper inthe bottom first too.
  2. Dissolve gelatin in cold water in a mixing bowl. Use the bowl for your stand mixer if you have one, but we were able to make these with just a crank mixer, a few family members, and some determination.
  3. In a saucepan mix together sugar, boiling water, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then stop whisking and allow to slowly boil for 15-30 minutes (I had to boil at least 30 minutes at high altitude) or until candy thermometer reads 236F.
  4. When the syrup is thick and ready, slowly pour down the side of the mixing bowl into the dissolved gelatin. Mix for about 20 minutes with an electric mixer, 30-40 with a crank mixer, or until the mixture is thick, white, foamy, and cool.
  5. Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth out mixture.
  6. Allow to sit for 6-8 hours, or freeze for a few hours to allow the marshmallows to set.
  7. Finishing up mixing
  8. Remove from pan (and remove waxed paper if necessary) and cut into squares on a cutting board dusted with powdered sugar. Then roll individual marshmallows in powdered sugar and eat or store in airtight container. Ours did keep OK in an airtight container at (a cool) room temperature for two weeks, but I wouldn't plan on keeping them any longer than that at room temp.
Cute helper

Yield obviously depends on how big you want your marshmallows. This would make, lots and lots of mini marshmallows, 64 one inch marshmallows, or 36 one and a half inch marshmallows, or of course just one giant marshmallow.

These are great for roasting or in hot cocoa.

Valiant Warriors Mini Camp

This week's mini camp was based off of learning about the armor in Eph. 6:11-17. Aaron learned the first verse of this passage and what the pieces of armor represent. Andrew chimes in with the right words occasionally. My husband and I made the armor out of cardboard and a reusable grocery bag, and the boys decorated the pieces over the course of the week. With just two boys this project was very easy. We also read different famous battle stories.

We encouraged the boys to try to act them out too, but they the two year old didn't always think that was fun. The most successful attempt at a "reenactment" was when "David" hurled a kitty cat from his sling at "Goliath" and then ran away really fast. And of course we weren't able to get that part on video.

Oh well, Aaron really got into all of the stories and making the armor. I'm sure in a another year or two if we do something like this again Andrew will be more interested too.

Valiant Warrior in Full Armor

Family Fridays: Too Cool

Cool Andrew: When did he get so big?

Aaron built a "really big" block house.
He says it big enough for us,
all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles,
and cousins all to live together. :)

A friend dropped off a bunch of old clothes to see
if we could use any of them. Andrew chose quite
the random assortment to wear all at once.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Free Kids Clothing at thredUP

I don't usually post deals, but this one seems too good for everyone involved not to mention. ThredUP is an online company that sells gently used and even some new with tags kids clothes online. Right now, they are offering an incredible deal. If you sign up through this invitation link you and I will both get $10 off when you make your first purchase.

You should be able to use this free $10 credit to get an item of kids clothing totally free by doing the following. Choose an item priced at $3.49 or less and apply the promotion code AUGUST20 to get an extra 20% off and even with the $6.95 shipping, the order should be completely covered by the free credit and you shouldn't have to enter any credit card or payment information. I just ordered a pair of active pants, still new with tags, for my four-year-old completely free with free shipping (to a US address) without providing any credit card info.

If you sign up through my link, thank you in advance. If you have friends who might be interested in this offer, you can invite them and earn free credits for yourself, or let them know about this post if your not interested in this offer for yourself.

Cooking Mini Camp

I have definitely gotten behind in all the things I'd like to write about here. When I have the most to write about, I am also doing the most other stuff and therefore have less time to write about it. Oh well, such is life. I'll be trying to post more recipes and DIY projects soon, but I thought I'd share a little more about the projects that we did for our mini cooking camp that we did last week.

The boys are actually getting to be somewhat helpful in the kitchen. Now they can work together to set the table for every meal and Aaron can actually do a few simple jobs that are truly helpful to me. They can make scrambled eggs together and Aaron can peel carrots, both with supervision of course. Aaron can also get his own breakfast of granola and milk and make his own PB&J sandwich. Aaron can also help Andrew enough to get him these meals too.

Together we also made mac and cheese, whole wheat tortillas, potato chips from scratch, homemade donuts, marshmallows, graham crackers, s'mores, granola, oatmeal raisin cookies, and stove top popcorn. We also practiced reading a recipe, measuring correctly, and setting the table correctly. The boys will of course continue to need a lot of practice to get good at any of these harder activities and recipes, but at least they've got a good start. And they had so much doing cooking camp! Andrew keeps asking to do more cooking camp and Aaron keeps telling me he wants to learn how to make this and that all by himself.

More Family Outings

The boys have been continuing to work hard doing their summer fun school program to earn their daily treats and weekly outings. Their favorite treat to pick has become suckers that are shaped like tiny feet, but have much better flavors.

The last two weeks we've tried to take the boys to a little kids swimming pool that we heard about, but that option isn't going to work out. We may have Nate try to take the boys to a bigger pool nearby that is supposed to be pretty good, but we'll see.

So instead the past two weeks we've done two mini outings, instead of one big thing. Last week we had a picnic and made s'mores and also took the boys to KFC for ice cream and play place time. This week we found a new playground and did KFC again. The boys are still little enough that these were still major highlights for them and they had a great time. We've really been enjoying our family time together this summer.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Family Fridays: 33 Weeks (Pregnancy Update)

I went for another prenatal check up this week and everything is still going along fine. The baby has been head down for at least ten weeks now, so there is no reason to think it might flip into a bad position at this point. Having baby head down at this point is always good news.

We've been getting ready for baby around here.  I've been doing lots of sewing for the new baby. All of our tiny baby clothes are still in America, you're not supposed to ship used clothing here, and all of the newborn and first month size clothes that I've seen here are crotchless, so I decided it would just be easiest to make some new 0-3 stuff for this baby. I may do a separate post later about sewing baby clothes, but I feel better now that I have a first wardrobe ready for this this new little one.

Also during our cooking camp week and throughout this summer break I've been stocking our freezer for after the baby. We don't have a huge amount of freezer space, but I do have a few meals and quick breads ready to go and am almost done with that project as well.

I still need to make small diaper covers and more new cloth diapers and wipes if I get time, but we're getting close to being ready for baby. :)

Linking up to My Joy-Filled Life Pregnancy Journal.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: Silly Stamping Set Instructions (The Chinglish Files)

Click to enlarge photo.
Aaron was quite confused about what we should use to wash the stamps
if we couldn't wash them in water.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Frugal Family Fun: Really Homemade S'mores

I'll write more about this week's cooking camp soon, but one of the favorite things we did was to have a campfire and make s'mores. We made the graham crackers and marshmallows from scratch together as a family. The boys also didn't seem to remember roasting marshmallows at all from before (it has been quite a long time), so they were just generally intrigued and thrilled with the "new" process as well.

We also shared a little with a few neighbor kids who had definitely never eaten s'mores before. The neighbor girl really enjoyed hers.

The homemade s'mores were really, really good. One thing we did notice was that our marshmallows didn't really catch fire for us like store bought marshmallows would have. I think that is a positive attribute of them, but my brother might be disappointed by the fact that he couldn't just quickly light his marshmallows on fire to efficiently make s'mores.


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