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Ladybugs!

ladybug2I first heard about the ladybug hike in Oakland a couple of months ago and had it on my list of things to do this winter – basically during the colder months, all the ladybugs in the area gather to hibernate together in one place, and it’s a truly amazing sight!   And when I found myself with a Monday over winter break with no plans, I decided to take the girls out to see them.  We brought two friends, packed our lunch and headed out.  We followed the Stream Trail to where it meets Prince Trail, and it is really a beautiful walk, ladybugs or no.  The girls were running along the path, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the stream, the trees, and everything – you’d think they’d never been outside before!  Just when I was loosing hope that we’d see any ladybugs, we hit the Prince Trail junction and there they were.

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On every stick, leaf, branch, fence post and sign you could see.  We ate our lunch and held some ladybugs and checked it out for 20 minutes or so before heading back.  All in all a really wonderful way to spend the first half of the day.

ladybug3 ladybug4If you’re interested in doing the hike, it’s located in the Redwood Regional Park in Oakland.  Follow the Stream Trail until it meets Prince Trail and there they are.  It’s about a 3 mile hike round trip when you start from the Skyline Gate Staging Area.  We brought a bob stroller in case any little legs got tired, and it took some effort to get back up the trail on the way back, but it can be done – a regular stoller will definitely NOT work since it is a dirt path (with some muddy patches).  Happily, all the older girls (ages 5-6) ended up walking the whole thing easily – the only one that needed a bit of a push on the way back was the 3 year old.  Happy exploring!

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oliver

photoI didn’t have a chance to take photos of a gift I made for a friend recently, but she was kind enough to take a picture herself (and also include the little recipient enjoying it!).  For this one I went with a slightly more neutral color palette, and used the same color yarn for the fur and his sweater stripe, then used gray and blue for the pants and other sweater stripe.  I also wanted to dress him up a bit, so added some little suspenders, which turned out super cute!  I thought about adding a bow-tie but never got around to it – I think I’ll have to try that for the next one 🙂  I also made a little rattle and felted on a little moon for fun – it was my first time felting and I really like the different texture it gives to the toys.  How cute is his little face looking at the kitty??  Adorable.

 

Walter

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Another kitty friend to add to the album 🙂  This one has been given a home by my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher, who is due with a boy this month.  This was the fist time I used a “non-traditional” fur color and I really like the element of whimsy it adds.

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Next up, a pink-furred girl kitty!

 

 

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If you’ve never tried Chex Muddy Buddies (also known by many as Puppy Chow) read the rest of this post and go make some IMMEDIATELY.  You’ll life will be forever changed for the better!  I can’t resist the stuff and could probably eat it by the bucket load, as could my kids.  However, they are definitely high in sugar and I was eager to find a way not to feel completely terrible for giving it to my girls as a daytime snack.  My solution was this:

Step 1. Replace half the semi-sweet chocolate chips with dark chocolate chips

Step 2. Cut the powdered sugar down to just a 1/2 cup (as opposed to 1 1/2 cups)

Step 3. Add a 1/2 cup ground flax to make up for the reduced powdered sugar to coat the cereal and add a little healthiness

The result is a 44% decrease in sugar!  It goes from 16.8g per serving to 9.4g – still enough to qualify as a treat, but a big improvement and just as yummy (plus consider the fact that most granola bars and flavored yogurts have WAY more sugar than this).  My girls didn’t notice a thing when I made the switch.  So here is the adjusted recipe in full for those who don’t have it memorized like me 🙂

Healthified Chex Muddy Buddies:

  • 9 cups Chex cereal (I use Rice Chex, but you can use any kind you like)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (all natural with no added sugar such as Laura Scudder’s)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Put Chex into a bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in the microwave until melted and smooth, stirring about every 20 seconds.  Once melted and smooth, add vanilla to the chocolate mixture and stir.  Pour chocolate over cereal and stir to get all the cereal evenly coated.  In another bowl, combine the ground flax and powdered sugar and stir to combine.  Pour the cereal into a large tupperware or zip-top bag, then add the flax/sugar mixture, seal it up and shake so that all the cereal gets coated by the flax/sugar.  Once it’s all coated, pour it out into a single layer onto wax paper and let cool.  Once cooled, store it in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.

Enjoy!

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Lucy

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Lucy is the latest crochet kitty I’ve made – I chose to do a gray and yellow kitty, adding the white on the face, paws and ears for a little more interest since her dress was just one color.  I also added the buttons since I felt it needed a little something 🙂  She is now with her new adopted mother, the almost-2-year-old daughter of a friend of mine, who has since named her “James”, hahaha.

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Fun With Egg Cartons

Every time we use the last egg, I can’t bring myself to throw away the carton – they are just so useful!  There are about a gazillion things you can do/make with them, so I always chuck them into my bin of “random packaging I might use for a craft”, which is embarrassingly large (old tuna can, anyone?).  This past Sunday, though, I’d seen something on Pinterest (of course) that had given me an idea and I just happened to use the last egg that morning, so egg-crate-monsters it was!

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Just cut them out in pairs, and decorate however you want to look like eyes – we did ours quickly with just marker, but you could totally glue googly eyes on these.  Then we stuck in pipe cleaners to add crazy “lashes” and attached them to our fingers.  Quick and oh-so-easy crafty fun.

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I luuuuuuuuv me a good, healthy smoothie.  It’s the best way to relieve all dietary guilt I feel associated with not eating enough fruits and veggies – both for me, and my kids.  If they have one of these as a mid-morning snack or with their lunch, I sleep a bit better even if they don’t eat their veggies at dinner time, or I’m all out of fruit at breakfast.  Mind you, all smoothies are not created equal – many run the risk of too much sugar when they have too much juice in them, or (Heaven forbid) frozen yogurt.  My go-to mix has just 5 ingredients (6 if you count water).

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I only use a 1/4 cup of OJ and then use water to get it liquidy enough to blend easily (is liquidy a word?).  Anyway, my 2 year old and 5 year old gobble these up – I probably make them 4-5 times a week.  I usually eye-ball the ingredients, but generally, I use:

  • 1 cup loosely packed frozen baby kale (I find the taste of baby kale milder and I can stuff in more without my kids objecting.  I just buy it fresh and then put it in a freezer bag myself)
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango
  • 1/4 cup OJ
  • 1/4 cup water (if it doesn’t blend easily enough, add more water)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp chia seeds

Then I whip it all up in my Bullet for about a minute.  Yummers.

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