Thursday, February 26, 2015

road trip


     Mount Mitchell, NC summit

How do you feel about car trips with kids...honestly? We are off on a winter break to test twins on skis for the very first time. Do you have a favorite local family ski destination? If you have some tips, please drop me a line @ pluffmudkids@gmail.com. Thanks for reading - see you back here on Monday!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

yummiest chocolate chip cookie


Remember this post from last year's snow day? I offered up our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and I have to repost it again today... it was the first thing my boys shouted out this morning as we prepared to stay huddled inside together out of the cold rain. Two things we've learned about making cookies together: they always turn out better when we use parchment paper to line our cookie sheets and always use unsalted butter rather than regular butter with this recipe. Enjoy!




INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. STEP 1

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

      IN THIS STEP:

         
  2. STEP 2

    Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. STEP 3

    Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
SOURCE
Holiday Cookies 2005, Special Issue 2005
(recipe and image marthastewart.com)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Make It Monday: Collards and Kale


Where you raised on collards? I was born in the south, but given that I was raised by a British Mum, collards were never on the menu and  I certainly don't naturally know what to do with them in my own kitchen. When a friend stopped by the other day with a fresh bunch of collards and a bunch of kale from her garden, she suggested this recipe, while another friend added the touch of vinegar... I have to say I'm converted. Delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of collard greens
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • Tbls olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cups chicken broth, or just enough to cover the greens
  • 1 Tbls vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste 
Directions:

Wash the collards and kale thoroughly and cut away stems and thick veins. Wash them in salt water and then dry on paper towel.

Saute the chopped onion and salt and pepper in olive oil until golden. Add the greens and toss them in the oil. Add the chicken broth and vinegar and simmer for about 30 minutes. So good.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

up and coming: going, going, gone

   Going...

  Going...

  Gone.

Catch these up and coming events before they're gone!

Gibbes Kids: Calling All Junior Architects 
Saturday, February 21, 10-11am
$5 per child
Location: Wonder Works, St. Andrews Shopping Center, 975 Savannah Hwy, Charleston 29407
    • Read, Laugh, Create your own Museum! Participants will read “Iggy Peck, Architect” by Andrea Beaty, then design their own museum with the help of WonderWorks creative team. All supplies included. Ages 5 & Up.

    • Advance registration required.
    *Information provided by Gibbes Museum 

                   ----------------------------------------------------------
Charleston Parks Conservancy Hosts Sixth Annual Teddy Bear Picnic


CHARLESTON, S.C. – For the sixth year, teddy bears and tots will invade Hampton Park for the annual Teddy Bear Picnic hosted by the Charleston Parks Conservancy. The event is 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 8 in Hampton Park. Admission and all activities are free.

John Cusatis will provide entertainment along with Homespun Hoops, Peace Love Hip Hop, and Becky’s Box of Puppets. A Teddy Care Station will be available for “injured” bears needing treatment and well bear checkups. Other activities include face painting, seed planting, cookie decorating, crafts and hula hooping. The afternoon wraps up with a teddy bear parade.

Families are invited to bring a picnic lunch, blankets and chairs to enjoy an afternoon in the park. Food will be available for purchase from Dish & Design and King of Pops.

“The mission of the Conservancy is connecting people to their parks,” said Harry Lesesne, executive director of the Conservancy. “We include teddy bears too. Bringing families to parks is sure to create lasting memories that develop the bond between people and their parks.”

Conservancy volunteers lead and put on this popular annual event. Co-chairs for this year are Fran Hummel and Stephanie Coffin. More than 50 volunteers and almost 500 hours will support the effort.

Information will be available on Facebook/Twitter in the case of inclement weather. For more information, visit www.charlestonparksconservancy.org.

About the Charleston Parks Conservancy
The Charleston Parks Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people to their parks and in turn increasing the quality, awareness, appreciation and usage of Charleston’s parks and green spaces. The Conservancy opens doors to individuals and communities in Charleston wanting to engage with their parks and green spaces in a kaleidoscope of positive ways. With the help of its Park Angels volunteer force, the Conservancy seeks to rally community support and pride behind the effort to create a lasting movement. For more information about or to support the Charleston Parks Conservancy, please visit www.charlestonparksconservancy.org.

*Information provided by Charleston Parks Conservancy

This post compiled to Alright - Darius Rucker live in Charleston, SC with Daryl Hall

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

cool spaces: tree houses


A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.

- From Tree House by Shel Silvertein

I overheard some people talking about the tree houses on Edisto River today and remembered it was one of the very first posts I ever wrote in 2012. Still one of our favorite places...


And check out this one built into this old oak just for kids at Palmetto Bluff...


Linking here with PMK Edisto Part II on Edisto tree houses and  Part I regarding Edisto canoeing (posts from 2012)

                       
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff (PMK post here from 2014) 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 2015 Charleston Currents Feature

             Charleston Currents

Sabine: PAW (parents are watching) social media
15.0216.texting
By Leigh Sabine | Our children are not ours to keep. They are just on loan to us. You hear people say this from time to time and I’m beginning to see the truth in the saying as my boys leap from one milestone to the next.
42 percent of teens say they can text blindfolded.
– Tech Savvy Parenting – Brian Housman
00_sabineAs well-meaning, intentional parents, we try our level best to raise boys to upstanding men, girls to strong young women. At a certain point in our child’s maturity (and it’s important to note that the arrival of this point varies from child to child), our child is ready to begin to step out of our orbit — to take what we have carefully taught them as right and true and apply it to the real world. Nowadays, that child will be walking away from us with a cell phone gripped tightly in their hand.
Enter the multifaceted, ever changing world of technology. We’ve come a long way since that first email was sent in 1971. Every imaginable tool of our new tech world fits nicely into the compact cell phone that our children now cradle in the palm of their hand. Are you really ready to hand them the world? Can your child handle this fully-loaded Lamborghini before they’ve even earned their driver’s permit?
Average number of texts sent by a teen each month: 3,339.
– Tech Savvy Parenting – Brian Housman
I recently attended a community talk on social media and it’s affects on our children. It was both enlightening and frightening. A panel of experts that included a police officer, a popular blogger, a tech guru, and a child counselor, had a firm grasp on all aspects of our digital world and the possible pitfalls that arise from the wrong click of a button, a picture sent that lands in the hands of a stranger, the danger wrapped in a seemingly innocent hashtag.
There are more than 7.5 million underage (13 and younger) children in America on Facebook. Only 53% of parents are aware that Facebook has a minimum age requirement.
– Tech Savvy Parenting – Brian Housman
For what it’s worth, here are a few things I have learned through the aforementioned community session and through further research about our children and social media. It seems too valuable not to share…
Know your child’s passwords and consider that a periodic check of your child’s phone use could be part of the contract you have with your child regarding their phone/computer.  The master bedroom is a perfect spot for a family docking station. This helps to instill unplugged family time and protects a child’s normal sleep patterns and nighttime routines.
Children model parents’ behavior. Never look at your phone while you’re talking to your child or your child is talking to you. Never bring your phone to the dinner table. Put your phone away while driving your car — children in the back seat can’t differentiate between scrolling through your phone for email, text or directions and none of it matters while the car is in motion.
Keepin’ it movin’. Popular social media sites are ever changing. Just when you think you have a handle on an app, a new one comes along. Some of the most popular are Tumblr, Vine, Twitter, kik messenger, Instagram, Omegle, Whisper, Snapchat and Tinder. Take the time to check these apps out and quiz a teen for inside intel on how the apps work. For example, what’s a “power swipe”? Ask the right teen and they’ll tell you. Choose a few apps to try firsthand to better understand the positive and negative aspects that could wind up on your child’s phone or computer.
Forearmed is forewarned. Read a book on the subject. Tech Savvy Parenting by Brian Housman is great. Some of my favorite websites for more information on the subject are commonsensemedia.org, empoweringparents.com and 360family.org.
Refer to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule provided by the Federal Trade Commission that seeks to protect children under the age of 13. Check the link here.
On the lighter side, I’ll leave you with a bit more food for thought. HTH (hope this helps).
To read the rest of this issue of Charleston Currents click here.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Make It Monday: Presidents Day Brain Buster

The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight. —Theodore Roosevelt

Prepare to pull your weight on this one, kids... this maze by our friend artist Brenda Gilliam is a tough one. Take your time, and you can do it!



Click here for downloadable PDF

Use the following links for Mount Rushmore education extensions:
This post compiled to The Star Spangled Banner - performed by Marvin Gaye. We love that he wore a suit with a pocket square to a basketball game.

Friday, February 13, 2015

flatlined on Valentine


I just checked my pulse and it would appear that I did in fact survive this week of Valentine production mayhem... did you? I have already cracked open the box of chocolates with my morning coffee.

The week went something like this: 

Homework,piano lessons,run the bridge,tennis practice,pine wood derby car prep,book reports,run the bridge,trips to the library,Valentine crafting, volunteering,"Mom, I neeeed a costume for my poetry recital!",run the bridge...

As the week comes to a full stop, I'm dreaming of a hammock on a little island far off the coast of Fiji.

Have a most excellent Valentine weekend! And as always... thanks for following along on this work in production we call raising children.

This post compiled to Work Song - Hozier

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sydlicious and the marshmallow Valentines

One last Valentine idea sent in by a reader/friend Reagan and her sweet Valentine Sydney... check out this recipe for homemade marshmallows from the Food Network's Ina Garten. What a cool, kid friendly project for a school treat. Thanks girls!




           This post compiled to My Funny Valentine - Chet Baker

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dockdogs and other Up and Coming

   Sewe 2014 

I have to stop the press and throw out some up and coming events that are great for families... so much good stuff going on at the moment!
  • The Southeastern Wildlife Expo is this weekend and includes the very kid friendly outdoor event Dockdogs. Check the link here for the schedule of events. Love the expression on this guy...
  • Weeki Wachee Mermaids come to SC Aquarium
  • Patriots Point offers discounted Sundays through February
  • Check out photographs from the Ace Basin at the Charleston Library Society
  • 2015 Kids For Conservation Birdhouse Competition - now on display at the Main Library in downtown Charleston. Very inspiring for kids.
Meanwhile, our own dockdog Winston didn't love the whole mobile pet groomer idea so much (mentioned in a previous post), as you can see by the look on his freshly groomed face. Back to the drawing board on that one...


This post compiled to C.W.'s current favorite song at the moment Wagon Wheel - Darius Rucker, a Sullivan's Island, SC local. Thank you to CW and Sullivan's Island Elementary School for a lunch with an ocean view today. What an incredible facility!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

recycled love (Part II) - shaving cream Valentines

What can you do with a can of shaving cream and some paint? Repurpose this everyday household item to create beautiful artwork...



I'm throwing the blog over to my little friend Syd and her creative Mom Reagan today as they prepare their DIY Valentines inspired by our recent Lowcountry sunsets!





Directions: In a foil baking tray, spray a few piles of shaving cream and add drops of washable craft paint or powdered paint. Allow your child to work their hands through the mixture. Lay card stock paper on top of mixture and press down. Remove and scrape off excess shaving cream with the edge of a ruler or strong paper and allow to dry. When thoroughly dry, cut into squares to make cards.




What did Sydney attach these cards to? Tune in tomorrow for Part II of Syd's homemade Valentines! Thanks Syd and Reagan - nice work girls!


recycled love (Part I)

One last Valentine idea today in the cheap and cheerful category! If you have a salad spinner, repurpose it as an art tool and create cool Valentines. You can mount your hearts on card stock or paper cards.

You will need: 
  • colored card stock (preferable to construction paper)
  • scissors (we used crinkled edge craft scissors)
  • a handful of marbles
  • tempura paint
Cut out heart shapes. Place the heart inside the salad spinner with a handful of marbles. Drip paint colors on top of marbles. Put the spinner lid on firmly and spin to create stripes. *Too much paint makes a heavier pattern like pictured below - less paint lets the marbles roll to form stripes.




Store this salad spinner with your art supplies - you don't even need to wash it out, just let the paint dry and use it again and again!


       This post compiled to This Years Love - David Grey

Monday, February 9, 2015

fold... and fold again!


Did you take the origami frog challenge today? It may take several tries to master it and it's best for children 5 and up... practice makes perfect! Tomorrow, one more make-it-yourself Valentine idea that children of all ages will love...


Hoppy Valentine's Day



Click here for downloadable PDF 1
Click here for downloadable PDF 2

Write a love message on the surface of this frog as an easy, inexpensive, super creative Valentine! 

This post compiled to Come Away To The Water - Maroon 5 ( Written by Glen Hansard for the movie The Hunger Games) - Hansard performed live last night at the Charleston Music Hall and brought the house down. His pianist plays the frets inside the piano - crazy good.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

In the Stacks: Go Set a Watchman

              "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
- from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

                            
Harper Lee with actress Mary Badham who played Scout in the 1962 film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird - ( Photo source: REX)

I can distinctly remember the summer I discovered Harper Lee. I was 11 years old... exactly the same age as my boys are now. To Kill a Mockingbird stuck with me and I always wondered whatever happened to Harper Lee. Where did her joy for storytelling go? I always wanted to hear more from her, didn't you?

As you will recall, Harper Lee took the Pulitzer Prize for her debut novel, To Kill a Mockingbird 55 years ago, while Gregory Peck carried home the Oscar for his role in the film adaptation of the book. Now, all these years later, at the age of 88, Lee has just announced the forthcoming publication of her new book Go Set a Watchman.

What happened to Harper Lee after To Kill a Mockingbird propelled her instantly to a life of recognition and fame? By all accounts, she was so shocked by the publication and overwhelming reception of her debut novel, she retreated to a quiet life away from the public eye. Lee's novel sold over 30 million copies and continues to sell over a million more each year.

"The original manuscript of the novel was considered to have been lost until fall 2014, when Tonja Carter (Harper Lee's attorney) discovered it in a secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird."
- US Publisher HarperCollins

Unbelievable, right? Lee is said to be "surprised and delighted" that the manuscript she had long thought lost has been recovered and is worthy of publishing.

How humble. Are you kidding, Ms. Lee?! We will be waiting with bated breath until this summer when Go Set a Watchman is due to hit book stores. The story, set 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, will follow the adult Scout as she returns home to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father, Atticus. 

Finally, we can curl up on a beach chair on a sunny, summer afternoon and hear more from Harper Lee.

Read this beautiful letter Harper Lee wrote to Oprah Winfrey regarding Lee's love of books. Get To Kill a Mockingbird here for under $5.00!

I highly recommend Pam Allyn's book What To Read When - The books and stories to read with your child- and all the best times to read them:



We also recommend Best Books For Boys by Pam Allyn:

                   
This post compiled to a throwback to another forgotten artist, Daryl Hall. Sara Smile - Daryl Hall at home with Rumer.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Valentine Fortune Cookies: Part II

Artist Brenda Gilliam is at it again with this fantastic printable recipe just in time for a Valentine's Day treat. Enjoy!


Click here for downloadable PDF version

This post compiled to At Last - Etta James


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Take a walk on Wednesday: A new park to love!

Try it today, or save it for tomorrow... but try it!



One of the key reasons I started this project was to share the love for South Carolina's state parks as well as our local area parks. The Charleston Parks Conservancy and Charleston Parks and Recreation do such a fantastic job of providing great park spaces and maintaining them. We are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to playing outside around here. 

On that note, we have another stunning new park space courtesy Charleston County Parks... and it's an extensive one. Check out this article on Laurel Hill Park by Charlestoncurrents.com to learn about the new county park that comprises over 700 acres. Pluff mud kids hit the new trails on Saturday and here's what we loved:



Look at all the ground to cover at Laurel Hill Park! Special events and fun run events are often held here and take off from the "Event Entrance" gate (pictured here at lower left), but to use the park on a daily basis, park at the Park West Recreation Department parking lots and enter the trails from there.
                                       


Now that you know where you're going, have a look at the width of these trails - perfect for families who like to run together...



And the best part? You can pick your distance with designated trail arrows - the 5 mile loop is fantastic and makes for the best natural track in town!

*Remember to pick your feet up and keep your eye on the trail - tree roots crisscross these pathways.

Interested in a special event here? We loved the Firecracker 4 Miler run here last July 4th. Put it on your calendar! Now it's possible to train for it right here on the trails. 

Today's post compiled to Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard and Lisa Hannigan. Catch Glen Hansard live this Sunday, February 8, 2015 at the Charleston Music Hall. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Make It Monday: Fortune Cookie Valentines

mla103020_0208_fortune.jpg
*image source: marthastewart.com

We've devoted this first week of February to Valentines, love, and love songs... here's an idea for homemade Valentines that was a big hit last year; so much so, we are repeating the same process this year! My boys attend a Montessori school that encourages homemade projects for Valentine's Day and the challenge is to come up with an idea that kids can really create all by themselves. This project fits the bill! Fun, inexpensive, and very creative, we found this here at marthastewart.com. (all photos and work by pluff mud kids, age 11.)


Materials:

*After years of Valentine making, my biggest tip is to a) set up a space for this project that can be available for a few days and b) allow twice as much time as you think it will take to for your child to make their own Valentines and label all the class names. 

  • Colored felt (you can use any color)
  • Scissors
  • A circle shape to cut around - the bottom of a cup works well
  • Pipe cleaners in a matching color
  • Paper to print out fortunes (you can print by hand or use a computer)
  • Craft glue
  • You can add a Hershey's Kiss or place the felt cookie inside a clear gift bag and add a treat
  • There are websites like this one that give ideas for fortune cookie sayings, or make up your own! 
What to do:

Gather your materials and set up a space for kids to work. Trace the shape of a circle to desired cookie size on all the squares of felt. Cut out the circles. Cut the pipe cleaners to width of circle. Glue the pipe cleaners pieces across the center of the circle and allow to dry overnight. Print out your fortune sayings and cut them into strips. Lay the saying inside the cookie , fold to close, and bend the cookie to shape it. 

The best part of this project is the fun kids have in creating their own sayings to tuck inside the cookies. Good luck and have fun!




Today's post compiled to Thinking Out Loud - Ed Sheeran