Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CENTRAL AR NATURE CENTER & HEIFER VILLAGE: A KID-FRIENDLY OUTING

My mother-in-law is a school teacher and is great about thinking of fun things to do with my kids. During her very limited and extremely deserved time off, she planned this little outing for us. If you are looking for something free, fun, and educational to do with your kids in Little Rock, read on.

Our first stop was the Central Arkansas Nature Center.
The Nature Center isn't huge. It's essentially a two room mini-museum of nature and wildlife in this part of the world. There are loads of stuffed birds and animals to view.



There's a big window where the kids can watch birds fly around and eat from feeders. Enid, as usual, was excited about every little thing. 


A sweet lady who worked at the center gave my kids educational coloring books (which they are currently coloring). The folks who work here are incredibly sweet and friendly!!  Loved them.


And there were stickers.


And live fish and eels and alligators and frogs.


The gift shop was a huge hit with those of my kids who had money burning a whole in their pockets.

I'm embarrassed I had never been to the nature center, but whenever the kids and I just happen to be in downtown Little Rock, we'll probably stop by again. I hear they feed alligators on Thursdays! 

Our next stop was the Heifer International Village where we had lunch. Lunch was imperative at this point. Tom was falling apart. Things were looking bleak. But lunch we sought and lunch we had. A delicious lunch, might I add. 






Before the food came, things got pretty hairy. I ended up having to take Tom to the restroom and nurse him. When he gets all crazy and inconsolable, and when discipline isn't working, nursing is key. I had to stand in a stall to nurse him because I refuse to sit on a public toilet to do so. Why do places, especially establishments such as Heifer, not have areas for nursing mothers?! I went to the restroom cause I didn't want to freak anyone out by my nursing a two year old, but next time I'm just gonna whip it out.

After we ate, we checked out the great educational area set up for kids. They even do this scavenger hunt thing where you have to read and find answers to questions, but we didn't participate. Maybe next time.





As we were getting ready to leave, Tristin visited the gift shop while my other kids made use of the crayons and drawing area. I guess because we do a lot of drawing and coloring at our house (that's all I really know to do), my kids respond well when given the opportunity. This was GREAT for keeping Tom Little occupied and in one spot! 

Afterward we took a trolley ride around downtown. It was 50 cents per person (under 4 are free). It was GREAT until the last leg when Tom decided he did not intend to stay seated ANY longer. And there are no photos of the trolley because I was over it by that point.

For a family our size who has a toddler in tow, this was just the right kind of outing. Nothing too strenuous. Short. Kid friendly. Essentially free. Next time we plan to hit up the Discovery Museum, but my mother-in-law must come along again. I will NEVER do something like this without some kind of back-up. A big thanks to her for encouraging us to get out!


Monday, July 21, 2014

SCOTCH TEAS: THE EASIEST COOKIE YOU'LL EVER MAKE


I do not bake. It's not because I don't enjoy eating baked goods, it's because I don't enjoy the process of creating baked goods. Seems like a lot of trouble most of the time. I tried to make a cobbler once, and I might never attempt a cobbler ever again. And pies, the making of the crust and rolling it out and putting it in the pie pan and trying to make it look pretty all the while...too much trouble.

My friends Emily and Joel had us over for dinner the other night, and for dessert, Emily served the above cookies. Scotch Teas, she called them, and she shared the recipe because I died and went to heaven when I put one in my mouth. Y'all. This is THE easiest cookie recipe I've ever followed (other than slice and bake obviously). And it is SOOOOO yummy! Apparently this recipe had been passed from her grandmother to her mother to her, and I've already made them twice and passed the recipe to another of my friends. You gotta make them and eat them then go run a couple miles so you don't feel so bad.

Ingredients:

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c butter (one stick)
2 c quick-cooking oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a saucepan combine sugar and butter and stir til butter melts. Remove from heat; stir in oats, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Turn into a greased 8 x 8 baking pan (I used a 9 x 13 and it worked fine). Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Don't overcook! Cookies won't appear set but will harden. When almost cooled, cut into bars.


This whole process, start to finish, takes 30 minutes max. And 20-25 minutes of that they are baking! So easy and so delicious. Thanks, Emily, for sharing!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A PIANO BENCH FACELIFT

No blogging for this lady this week. Man, it's been some week alright. Heath's aunt died, which was very sad. She had been sick for years so it's of course wonderful that she is no longer suffering, but death is always hard and confusing and just hard. Also, in the last couple of weeks there have been two wonderful men who have died suddenly, separate and unrelated. Just yet another reminder that we aren't here for long, and we should make the most of every day.

Taking into account this perspective, what I'm about to share in this post is terribly unimportant. Doesn't matter in the scheme of things, but it's been part of my week so I'm sharing anyway. 

I've posted about my desire for white walls too many times on this blog, and this week I decided that the perfect time to paint my dining room and hallways was never going to come. So I took matters into my own hands and knocked it out. It was not with great ease, mind you, but I knocked it out none the less. And, let me just say, I did it with all four kids up in here. A big shout-out to Tristin. That girl saved me and all of us.

So white walls, yes, but this isn't even about that. I'm not ready to post a bunch of pictures because I am now scratching my head about how to decorate the room. The existing stuff just isn't going to cut it with the white. I basically had decorated around the green and tried to make it work. It was holding me back. It had to go. So the room will be an evolving process, like most things in my life.

What I am really posting about is my piano bench!  I recovered it. I've had the material to recover it for way too long. And in the spirit of taking matters into my own hands, I decided to up and do it last night around dinner time while everyone else was eating pizza. Yeah, The Fresh 20 didn't go so well this week.

Here is a really awful before shot of the sad and stained piano bench.


And after!

I really like it. It makes me happier, oddly enough. And now I have got to get off of here because, like an idiot, I left out the paint. And let's just say Tom put some finishing touches on the ol' paint job. He's been eyeing that paintbrush for so long. Couldn't take the temptation. Bye! And have a great weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2014

THE FRESH 20: A REPORT & AN INSPIRED RECIPE


I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was going to really put forth an extra effort to follow the Fresh 20 plan. I am here to report back. I have followed it pretty closely for two weeks now, and I LOVE it!!! Seriously. Every meal I have made has been out-of-this-world delicious. And, for the most part, the kids have eaten the meals with smiles on their faces. Well, not Tom, but he doesn't eat much of anything at this point.

What I'm really enjoying with the Fresh 20 is it is teaching me to think outside the box as far as cooking goes. I'm learning how to use spices and herbs and how to pair certain ingredients that I otherwise wouldn't have thought about pairing.

The recipe I'm posting today was not a Fresh 20 recipe EXACTLY because I didn't have everything I needed for the recipe. So I improvised. But it was good! I'm sure it would have been much better if I had followed the Fresh 20 recipe precisely, but I like that I now feel more comfortable experimenting.

What's in it:

Squash (2)
Cherry Tomatoes (couple hands full)
Fresh Mozzerella (2 rounds)
Nectarine (2 chopped)
Bacon (4 strips)
Fresh Basil (3/4 cup chopped)
Pine nuts
Balsamic Vinegar (a splash)
Olive Oil (another splash)
Salt & Pepper to taste

All you do is:

1. Slice the squash and then saute it in some butter or oil.
2. Cook the bacon then chop it up.
3. Layer all the ingredients kinda like a salad, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste.

Again, this is NOT a Fresh 20 recipe but was inspired by one from last week's classic menu. Even though I ventured off the Fresh 20 path a bit, we have had two weeks of healthy and tasty dinners. (More tasty when I stick to the recipe!)  Last night we had a Fresh 20 asparagus and mango fried rice dish, and it was scrumptious! And I'm feeling healthier!!

**Full disclosure, I did allow my 11 year old to convince me to order pizza at 8:30 the other night after we had already eaten dinner at 5. We all ate really awful pizza at 9pm. It was tons of fun actually, but I definitely felt gross the next morning.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

BLOG LOVE, PHOTO ENVY, AND A HASHTAG: THE EVERYDAY PROJECT BY ANNAPOLIS & CO


Y'all see that little square in the bottom right corner? That's me! And Tom Little! A couple weeks ago one of my Instagram pics was featured, along with these much more awesome shots, in a series called The Everyday Project. The series was created by Mary Beth of Annapolis & Company and has been a lot of fun to follow.  If you haven't checked out Mary Beth's blog or The Everyday Project (#theeverydayproject) or her Instagram gallery, you most certainly should. There's one week left in her IG hashtag project!  Check it out and participate!! And you will love Mary Beth. And you will hate yourself after you see her incredible photo skills.

*Also featured :  @forriverhendrix // @damariposaphotog // @jbetharmstrong // @luandboo // @bsmama318 // @laurenwasher // @thecoralpearl // @tafariorganics