Friday, December 15, 2017

Exploring Arkansas Through Little Passports

Our next virtual adventure through Little Passports brought us to Arkansas. I've never been there and know very little about it, so I found it especially interesting. Trevor and started off by building a model of a fiddle. 


You have to supply your own sound.


We learned about Bathhouse Row, the fancy old houses next to Hot Springs National Park. Trevor did an experiment to learn about dissolved minerals in water. He put equal amounts of water into two containers - one with hot water, and one with cold water. Then he dropped sugar cubes into each until no more would dissolve. Just like the mineral-rich water of Hot Springs National Park, the hot water was able to dissolve far more sugar than the cold water. 


We read all about the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, then followed instructions to decode one of Arkansas' nicknames. We read that Little Rock got its name from a rock located at the spot where early explorers started a settlement. We learned that there are 52 state parks in Arkansas with a wide variety of outdoor activities to enjoy and solved a maze about mountain biking in the Ouachita Mountains. 

Next, we read about famous events in Arkansas history. We did a crossword puzzle about the Ozark Folk Center, and learned that Arkansas has an official state cooking pot. (It's the Dutch oven, familiar to Boy Scout Trevor.) We solved a math puzzle based on The Crater of Diamonds. Trevor said that when we travel to Arkansas someday, we're definitely going there! We learned how to draw a razorback, the wild boars that are common in Arkansas. 

The recipe in the Arkansas journal is inspired by the Pink Tomato Festival that takes place each year. Trevor made a sandwich spread in the blender...


... cooked up cornmeal griddle cakes on the stove...


... and sliced tomatoes, then assembled the whole thing into a sandwich. 


Delicious!!


As always, Trevor and I learned so much during our virtual travels. We're both really excited about planning a visit to Arkansas in the future. Huge thanks to Little Passports for teaching us so much about this interesting state!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ugly (Festive!) Christmas Sweater Garland

'Tis the season for ugly Christmas sweaters! Or, as I prefer to call them, festive Christmas sweaters. Back in my teaching days, I wore my festive Christmas sweaters to work throughout December. I'm a fan. 

I'm also a fan of this garland. I had a great time making it and I love the way it looks hanging up. I'm going to be adding to it to make it longer, but I wanted to share it asap so that you could make your own.


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Ugly (Festive!) Christmas Sweater Garland


Materials:

  • copy paper
  • scissors
  • markers
  • Stickles

Steps: 


Cut the copy paper in half lengthwise to make two 4.25" x 11" rectangles. You need one rectangle per chain of four sweaters.

Fold the paper in half widthwise, then again, and a third time. Open the paper and use the fold lines as guides to fold the paper accordion-style. 

Draw half of a sweater shape on one end of the accordion, as shown below. Make sure the arm is facing toward the unfolded edge.


Holding the folded paper together, cut out the sweaters. Microtip scissors work best for this. You'll end up with four connected sweaters. 


Now use markers to decorate the sweaters! Anything goes. I used Crayola's scented markers specifically so that the wreath and Christmas tree would smell like pine. It's the little things. 


Finally, add Stickles. You can't have too much glitter on a festive Christmas sweater!




I can't wait to make more. As I complete more strands, I'll add them to this strand by putting a little piece of paper behind the arms. Give it a try and when you do, send me a photo!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Visiting State Capitols and The Capitol Collection

During our October trip, we toured the Capitol buildings in Maryland, DelawareNew Jersey, and Pennsylvania. This brings the total number of Capitols we've visited as a family up to 15, all in the last four years! Before we started visiting them, I expected that the Capitol buildings would be more similar than different. Large, rectangular, white, dome on top, grand staircase... that sort of thing. Some do look like that, but plenty don't. We really enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between the different Capitols. It's fascinating how much they vary in size, style, function, public access... and level of security!

Here we are at all of the Capitol buildings we've visited in the past 4 years, starting with our own. 

Sacramento, California

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Denver, Colorado

Salt Lake City, Utah

Juneau, Alaska (closed for renovations)

Boise, Idaho

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Phoenix, Arizona

Des Moines, Iowa

Lincoln, Nebraska

Carson City, Nevada

Annapolis, Maryland

Dover, Delaware

Trenton, New Jersey

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

It wasn't until we'd been to a handful of Capitols that we thought about a way to keep track of which ones we'd visited. I didn't want to start a separate album - some sort of small book would be better. In Iowa, we discovered The Capitol Collection at the gift shop. Perfect!! 


This small, spiral-bound book is lightweight and easy to carry on our travels. There is a 2-page spread for each state, with information about that state and a place to stamp the book during each visit. We bought the book after we'd been to quite a few Capitols, some of which we were unlikely to ever revisit. Would those pages remain blank? No! What I love most about The Capitol Collection is that once you buy it, you can request a sticker version of each of the stamps that you are missing. Just supply the date you visited and the stickers come in the mail. Here you can see the California page. I've attached the California sticker; the Wyoming, Iowa, and Utah stickers are ready to stick in place. 


You can buy The Capitol Collection at some Capitol's gift shops, or at thecapitolcollection.com. No affiliate link, unfortunately, because I've recommended it to a lot of people and now I'm sharing it with you all! It would make a neat gift for kids, retirees, or anyone who enjoys travel. 

Visit my US Travel page to read about our family's travels to the Capitols and other places in the United States. You'll also find gift recommendations for travelers, crafts inspired by each state, and ideas for documenting your own travels.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Paper Plate Artist's Palette .... For Dinner!

I believe whole-heartedly in making everyday activities fun. And when crazy ideas pop into my head, like eating dinner off of an artist's palette, I go with it. 



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Paper Plate Artist's Palette


Materials: 

  • paper plate
  • scissors
  • food


Steps:


Prepare the plate by cutting an arc into one side. Poke the scissors into the plate to cut a thumb-sized hole near the arc. 


The example above is for a lefty (like me) to hold in her right hand. My right-handed family needed palettes cut the opposite direction, so they could hold them with their left hands and eat with their right. 


Now load up the food! Choose items that don't need cutting. Here, Trevor has chicken (cut into bite-sized pieces), red peppers, zucchini, black beans, Mexican rice, sour cream, and corn tomalito.  


Just another dinner in the deRosier house!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

We've finally had some cold weather here (cold being relative, of course) and cold weather means soup. Actually, I'm a fan of soup no matter what the weather. I don't think I've ever mentioned that Steve and I wanted a soup bar for lunch at our May 2004 wedding reception, but we couldn't find a caterer who could/would do it. I haven't asked around in almost 14 years, but as far as I know there's still a hole in the market for someone to fill.  

I love making soup because it is easy and forgiving. I can dig around in the refrigerator and/or freezer and come up with something yummy that works well in soup. In this case, it's Broccoli-Cheddar Soup. We keep broccoli on hand because it's one of Trouble's favorite foods and we keep cheese on hand because it's one of my favorite foods. 


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Broccoli Cheddar Soup


                                       1/4 c. butter                                     2 c. milk
                                       1/2 onion, chopped                           3 1/2 c. shredded cheddar
                                       1/4 c. flour                                       1 c. finely chopped cooked broccoli
                                       4 c. broth (chicken or veggie)

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for five minutes, or until tender. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. It should be completely combined with the onion. Add the broth, stirring constantly. Let that cook for a minute, then add the milk. Bring the mixture just to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender until the soup is smooth. Whisk in the cheddar until it is completely melted. If it does not melt completely, heat over very low heat for a minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the broccoli.