Posts Tagged ‘summer’

summer journal: recycling

guy house: the jail, back door, and greenhouse

Raid the recycling! Slap it together with hot glue! Decorate with tape! and whatever else is lying around!

guy house: ladder to the pool

My kids call it the guy house, “because it’s for guys, Mom, not dolls.” Playmobile guys, lego guys, little people guys, calico critter guys, everybody can go swimming in the stripy pool!

guy house: hammock!

What I really wanted to do was spray paint the whole thing one color (safety orange!) but my kids were having such a blast decorating it that I couldn’t spoil the fun. Tape turned out to be the easiest way to make it awesome. Mostly we used duct tape and the washi like tape from target.  Bonus: the tape box made a sweet hammock.

guy house: front door

Go glue things together!


summer journal: strawberry picking

strawberry picker

We had a weird spring, so the strawberry crop was a little weak, but that didn’t stop us. We (I) picked a bunch and we (they) ate a bunch, then we came home and cooked a bunch. Strawberry jam was of course on the docket, but this year I also made strawberry fruit roll ups and strawberry syrup. The fruit roll ups were fantastic! I used this recipe, but cut the sugar down to a few tablespoons.

star hat

The strawberry syrup, though, that’s where it’s at. Last year I checked out the book Canning for a New Generation so many times from the library I finally just bought the damn thing. Canning books usually put me off because the recipes are super labor intensive. This book is different. The author, Liana Krissoff, doesn’t assume you have any fancy canning supplies, only a big pot and some jars. She even tells you how to make some equipment–throw rubber bands around your tongs and you have a jar lifter!  Also awesome is that all of the recipes are for small batches. Some people are into sweating at the stove canning all day, I’m not really big on sweating.

strawberry syrup

The recipes in the book go from basic to slightly more adventurous. She also includes recipes for using all that stuff you canned, which is always helpful.  What I’m saying is, the book is good, check it out! Now back to the strawberry syrup. It is crazy sweet, but I didn’t want to mess with the sugar content because I was canning the stuff.  We used the tiny bit that didn’t fit in the jars for strawberry soda. You only need the littlest bit, because again it is super sweet, and it is also super strawberry-y.  Holy crap! Mixed with pamplemousse sparkling water, this is hands down the best soda I’ve ever had.

strawberry syrup + pamplemousse mineral water

Strawberry Syrup

adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff

  • 4 lbs strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
for canning
1. Bring a large pot of water up to boiling.
2. Submerge three 1/2 pint jars in the boiling water and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize.
3. Place the jar lids in a heat proof bowl. When you take the jars out of the water pour some boiling water into the bowl with the lids. This will help the lids seal better.
for syrup making
1. Before you start, put a small plate in the freezer
2. Put the strawberries, just the strawberries, in a large pot. Smash them to release their juices. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
3. Place a fine meshed sieve over a large bowl and pour the strawberries into the sieve. Press down on the berries to get all their juice out. In the book there is a recipe for all this lovely strawberry pulp, but you don’t need it for this syrup.
4. Rinse out your large pot and pour the strawberry juice in it.
5. Add the sugar and the lemon juice.
6. Bring to a boil. Boil, stirring often. Check if the syrup is done by dabbing a bit on the frozen plate. When it firms up a bit–not like jam, but like syrup (duh)–then it’s done. This will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes.
for processing
1. Carefully remove the jars from the boiling water.
2. Ladle the hot syrup into the hot jars, leaving 1/2 room at the top.
3. Wipe off the rims (and anywhere else you have spilled) with a damp towel.
4. Put the lids on and screw them tight (not crazy tight).
5. Return the jars to the boiling water, making sure they are covered by at least and 1inch of water.
6. Boil for 5 minutes.
7. Carefully take the jars out and place them on a towel. Do not disturb them for 12 hours. After about an hour the lids should *thwunk* down. If they don’t, put them in the refrigerator and use them within the month.


Makes about three 1/2 pint jars, or two with some leftover to make sodas right away. The book doesn’t say, but I’m guessing these are good for 6 months or maybe a bit more.  Cheers!

summer journal: scavenger hunt

Color coded egg carton scavenger hunt before:

egg carton scavenger hunt

Color coded egg carton scavenger hunt after:

color coded scavenger hunt


summer camp adventure club!

A few days ago my daughter said, wistfully, “Remember last summer when we did a craft project every day?”. My first thought was, wooo hoo! I made an actual memory for my kid! and it was a good one. Parenting win! My second thought was, dammit, how am I going to do that again?  Then I got an email from Beth (of Sew Mama Sew fame) telling me about an online summer crafts camp called the Summer Camp Adventure Club. Problem solved.

What is the Summer Camp Adventure Club? I’ll let Beth describe it:

Summer Camp Adventure Club is a subscription-based, online “camp” (an eCourse/online class) where Pre-K through 3-4 grade campers get fun, new ideas every day throughout the summer. There’s a new theme every week in June, July and August. Each weekly theme includes tons of inspiring projects, activities, journal prompts, downloads, recipes and more. Kids get the inspiration and guidance they need to work more independently to create projects they love.

Full disclosure: I was given a free month of club membership in exchange for spreading the word, but honestly I’m going to purchase subscriptions for July and August. I could be my normal cheapskate self and do it all myself (with the help of my pinterest boards), but with three little kids running and screaming around the house day in and day out, I don’t always have the brain power to think up, organize, and get a project going for the kids.  Summer Camp Adventure Club to the rescue! Come on, join the club!

lamb burgers with tzatziki

lamb burgers

Usually, I hold off posting recipes here until I have the exact measurements and directions for making it, which means I never get around to sharing any recipes with you. Dinnertime is always crazy and often straight up chaos. My cooking style has become a few glugs rather than tablespoons, half a palm full rather than teaspoons, and whatever cup-like thing is in reach rather than a cup, because the actual measuring cups are in the sandbox. But I still want to share some recipes with you. If you keep in mind that my ingredient measurement are estimates and the directions are guidelines, then I think we’ll be okay.


Lamb and Feta Burgers with Tzatiki

lamb burger ingredients

for the burgers:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lb ground lamb (I like to make a lot to insure I can have some for lunch the next day)
  • 4 or so oz feta
  • 1/4 cup (handful) chopped cilantro or parsley (a little mint thrown in there is nice too)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • salt and pepper

for the tzatziki:

  • about 6 inches of a cucumber, peeled
  • 1 cup good yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic (optional, my children think it’s too spicy, silly children)
  • salt and pepper

frying the lamb burgers

directions for the burgers:

1. Put the lamb in a big bowl with the garlic, herbs, and lemon zest. Crumble the feta into the bowl as best you can, smallish is better but really if there are big chunks it doesn’t matter. Mix everything up with your hands. Salt and pepper the mixture liberally.

2. Shape the patties. I usually make them on the smaller size: 3 inches, I’d say. Obviously any size is going to work.

3. Fry or grill those suckers until they are done to your liking.  If you end up frying them, use only a bit of oil in the pan because lamb gives off a lot of fat.

for the tzatziki:

unsqueezed, squeezed cucumber

1. Grate your cucumber into a bowl

2. Put all of it in your hands and working over the sink squeeze out the excess water–there is a lot. See unsqueezed, squeezed cucumber photo above.

super natural whole milk yogurt

3. Add your yogurt. As a side note, I really love this whole milk yogurt. We used to get the Stoneyfield yogurt, but then they very abruptly stopped making the cream on top kind and now their yogurt just tastes like gelatin to me. Obviously I’m picky and should probably make my own, but until I stop being lazy this Super Natural yogurt is totally delicious.

4. Add chopped garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. I’m going to show you this picture because when it’s all mixed up it looks rather boring.


Tzatziki is delicious slathered all over the burgers. The kids use it as a dip. I try to get away with not even putting the damn ketchup on the table for the kids, but one of them usually remembers (the picky one).  We don’t use buns, but you of course could. To round out the meal, I use the rest of the cucumber for a salad and then make some other vegetable. That night it was peas (because I was so freaking busy taking pictures), but sweet potato fries are perfect with this meal.

lamb and feta burgers, tzatziki, cucumber salad, and peas

There you are. This is dinner for two adults, one first grader, one garbage gut of a 5 year old boy, and one very picky toddler. Adjust to the size (and size of appetite) of your family.