Thursday, May 26

Kitchen table fun #3

Another item I put out on the kitchen table (for-twenty-minutes-of-non-refereeing/mediator-time-for-me/fun-for-busy-little-hands) is a plastic container filled with dry beans. This activity can cost you under four dollars.

1 - plastic container at a dollar store ($1.05)
3 - three bags of dried beans (I bought red kidney beans and black-eyed-peas) ($.88 each)

My earlier version of this activity used rice and it got to be too messy. So, instead of rice, I now use dry beans. Both the rice and beans feel great to run your fingers through.

I usually set out a rectangle metal cooking tray that has a small lip to catch any wandering beans. I also like to put a dishtowel over the cooking tray to dampen the noise of the beans falling.

I keep my eye out for fun metal scoopers at yard sales and pick them up for pennies. My boys love scooping and pouring the beans with them.

Different sized play cups, plates, bowls, spoons and measuring cups work great too!

Old, plastic, honey, spice and Tic-Tac containers that have lids are fun too!

I put little treasures in the bottom of the box that they can dig for or bury. I usually find those things in my/their junk drawer: polished stones, seashells, keys, marbles, LEGO men, bells or coins.

I also took a Sharpie pen and drew something on one side of about five of the beans. They love squealing, “I found the one with the heart on it!”

You could take this one step further and put numbers 1 – 10 or spell out their name on them. Then they can hunt for them and put them in the right order! Anything to stretch their attention span, extend play time and learn as well.

Rules that work in my kitchen:

One child plays with the beans at a time.
Do not eat the beans.
The beans and cups of beans stay on the table in the kitchen.
Do not eat the beans.
When you are finished put everything back in the container and pick up all the beans off the floor.

This activity is best for kids past the oral phase or do not have a habit of putting things in their mouths. Other than that, monitor appropriately.

Have fun!

Monday, May 23

A Garland of Love

I wanted to make a garland or a banner for my mother’s 70th birthday party. I wanted something unique that involved her twelve grandchildren in someway. I thought maybe silhouettes of each grandchild’s profile, large hearts with hand written notes or a mural of some kind.

We already made a scrapbook where each grandchild had a page they could color and write something they liked about Grandma with their pictures in it as well. So, (late at night) I kept on thinking.

I thought of how mothers like to have a snapshot of their children at certain time periods; pencil markings of height climbing up a wall, a little envelope with wisps of a first haircut, and a tiny handprint in plaster. These items are reminders of moments, fleeting moments, when at the time, they seemed like endless hours. Once they pass, we can’t go back and recreate those moments. They are forever etched in time.

That’s when I got the idea of hands. I decided to trace the hands of each grandchild onto colorful paper, cut them out and string them along a pretty ribbon! A snapshot of all of her grandchildren’s hands at this moment of their lives!

My mother has kissed, walked with and held all these hands many days and nights.

She has also helped teach these hands to clap, put puzzle pieces together, use scissors, paint, draw, set the table, tie shoes strings, zip a zipper, fold in prayer, sew, plant seeds, follow words in a book, refrain from touching a window, play Rummikub and Bananagrams, cook, play the piano, love and hug!

These hands are not entirely separate for my mother.
She will forever be a part of what these hands do.
And I wanted her to see that in this Garland of Love!

Thanks, Mom, for helping all my boys so much!

Thursday, May 19

chocolate bird nest

My mother said she really enjoyed her 70th birthday party!

Yay, Success!!!!

All my siblings pitched in, in various ways, and we really had a great time!!

My sister totally rocked her organization skills! Thanks, Alice!

Relatives and friends from the past flew in from out of town and all twelve grandchildren made it there too!

We had a dear friend cater the lunch. Thanks, Michael!!

We hired a professional photographer to take family photos. Thanks, Caity!

There was music, an entertainment section, memorabilia, a computer slide show and, yes, there was a cake!

The Cake

There is a tiny bakery in Baltimore that has been around for over 90 years; Fenwick Bakery! And, Oh, Boy, do they know how to make a delicious cake! My mother picked out this delicious lemon pound cake.


They baked and iced it! And then my mom wanted me to decorate it for her.

Wow, what a privilege!

She knew she wanted some sort of flowers on top! I tossed ideas around in my head. I wanted something dainty, feminine and understated but altogether unique. I ended up deciding to make a dark, chocolate, bird nest! I went to my favorite cake supply store, The Cake & Wedding Cottage, and picked up chocolate wafers and browsed their sugar paste flowers!

I was juggling quite a busy schedule, and time was precious so I opted out of making flowers and swooped up their most adorable cherry blossoms to add around the nest.

Making the Chocolate Nest

I have experimented with melted chocolate before and made the following:

a crocodile, blades of grass, a white, chocolate bunny, carrots, leaves and a pirate treasure chest, but, I have never made a chocolate nest.

I was up for the challenge.

I melted the chocolate wafers on the stove top with an improvised double broiler.

I then poured in into a small plastic bottle which had a pointed tip on the cap. I bought this bottle a while ago, which is specifically made for melted chocolate; great tool!

I decided to make several nests ahead of time.

I picked a small bowl, turned it upside down, sprayed it with cooking oil spray and squeezed some of the melted chocolate around the bowl. I put it on a pan and let it set in the refrigerator. When it completely cooled (a couple minutes later) I took it out and squeezed more chocolate around the bowl. I repeated this process until I had the thickness and look I wanted.

I then did the same thing with a balloon.

My Results

Ceramic bowl:
It was difficult to pry off in one piece. It actually broke apart.
It still tasted heavenly!

Plastic bowl: It was difficult to pry off. Only one piece broke off which I was able to put back on with the melted chocolate acting like an adhesive.

Balloon: The winner!! It was so easy. I literally just cut a tiny sliver into the balloon so it would slowly deflate. The balloon shrank and I just lifted in out of the nest!

I will definitely use this method the next time I ever have the need to make a chocolate nest in the future.


The boys and I hunted for the best bird to put in the nest.

We browsed a craft store and caught one.

If we had the time, I would have asked my brother-in-law to catch a bird, as he did back in Trinidad as a young boy, and have him train it to sit still in the nest. As I mentioned we were short on time.

Maybe next time!

I scored some edible, green grass that was in the post-Easter sale section!

I also bought some pastel Jordan Almonds and picked out three pale blue ones for the eggs.

I also made a seven and a zero with the melted chocolate on wax paper.

And here is all of it put together!

I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas, experimenting and learning. I enjoyed the challenge of creating something unique and special for someone who is very unique and special!

my mom

Other fun stuff about the party to come later….check back to see the adorable garland I made!

Sunday, May 8

Happy Mother's Day!!

Happy Mother's Day

to all of you ladies

who nurture other people

with daily doses of grace and love.

My mother’s 70th birthday party was beautiful!!!

Photos to come later,

when I catch up on sleep!

my mother

I love you mom!

Thursday, May 5


My grandmother is here from Colorado.

my grandmother, Helen, and my mother

Maryland seems brighter since she has arrived.

She has come to visit and celebrate her daughter's 70th birthday.

Yes, my mother is turning seventy and my siblings

and I are throwing her a party this Saturday.

I am excited and very busy with a lot of fun, party stuff.

I will post pictures later.

My two aunts are coming too.

It is going to be so much fun with them here!!!


Some new things this week:

a new smile

both front teeth are out....finally!

our new backyard visitors

golden finches

a green frog

a three week visit with my lovely grandmother

my oldest with my grandmother

my seven-year-old is looking for creative ways to earn money
this is what I found when I walked into the kitchen…hmmm?

"tasting new stuff.....10 cents!"

puffy eyes on my five-year-old….spring allergies

itchy, puffy eyes

the boys sudden interest in taking pictures

my middle son's picture

my youngest son's picture

And last but not least,

my seven-year-old wanted to know what

a fried egg would taste like if it were frozen.

Well, we found out. Pretty tasty, indeed!