Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rainbow-Ish Popsicles

This past week I completed week two of Popsicle Summer.  The first week I made a creamy Salted Bourbon Caramel popsicle that was delicious but not so healthy.  So this week I decided to do a more juice-based popsicle.

What I thought they would look like...
I'll be honest, my popsicle searches have been more about image searching popsicles and then finding the one I think looks the best.  This is exactly how I decided upon Rainbow Pops. It was not my first time doing layered popsicles so I thought I would be an old pro.  Ahhhh, such confidence.

I tackled my Rainbow Pops on Wednesday, the same day as the US/Germany World Cup game.  I got up at 8 am knowing that each layer required a half hour of freezing before adding the next layer.  If I timed it just right I could be out of the house and ready to watch some soccer.

Adding the first layer
Dixie Cups for cute popsicles

Alas, a humid day and a non-commercial size freezer thwarted my attempts at beautifully layered Rainbow Pops.  It did not take 30 minutes to freeze as the recipe said...it took an hour and 15 minutes.  So my first two layers, red and orange, kind of swirled together.  My third layer, yellow, was successful in some pops and not others.  Needless to say, I did not finish these popsicles before the soccer game.  The rest of the layers happened when I could get around to it.

I mean, you can't be late for THIS
World Cup Date!

The result?  A sort-of-Rainbow Pop that was waaaaay to sugary for my tastes.  Each layer was a mixture of juice, food coloring, and a simple syrup made with light corn syrup, sugar, and water.  It was just a bit much.  Jessie felt the same way, Geoff loved these puppies.

My Rainbow-Ish Popsicles

You can sorta see some layers in this one.
They melted FAST!

If you want to give it a whirl, here is the recipe, from Babble.com:

Homemade Rainbow Popsicles makes twelve 4 oz. popsicles
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups pomegranate juice
3 cups lemonade
1 cup orange juice
food coloring (natural food coloring is available at some health food stores)
Dixie cups
wooden popsicle sticks


In a medium sauce pan, heat the sugar and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in the corn syrup. Set aside to cool.

Next, prepare and chill the liquid layers:
Red: combine 1 cup pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, and 2 drops red food coloring. Orange: combine 1 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, and 1 drop red and 1 drop yellow food coloring. Yellow: combine 1 cup lemonade, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, and 1 – 2 drops yellow food coloring. Green: combine 1 cup lemonade, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, and 1 – 2 drops green food coloring. Blue: combine 1 cup lemonade, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, and 1 – 2 drops blue food coloring. Purple: combine 1 cup pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, and 2 drops blue and 1 drop red food coloring.

Pour the red layer into your Dixie cups, to about 1/4″ thickness, and freeze for 30 minutes. Add the orange layer, in the same way, and freeze for another 30 minutes. Place the sticks in the center (the two layers should hold them pretty well), pour in the yellow layer, and freeze for another 30 minutes. Add the green, blue, and purple layers in the same fashion. The purple will come very close to the top of the cup, so handle carefully. Allow the popsicles to freeze for 3 hours, though for optimal curing, let them freeze overnight.

Book Pairing


For these popsicles, I would definitely read Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.  I can just imagine Harriet licking a rainbow popsicle as she wanders around on her adventures, getting the low-down on her neighbors.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Reading

At long last I am sitting down to get going on my summer reading list.  Some summers I spend weeks ahead of time getting ready.  Of course I always have a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, but what else to read??  This year I have had the great fortune of reading lots of books in the school year because of my lengthy subway ride.  The hectic end of the year also meant I didn't have much time to actually put thought into my summer books until, well, now.  I headed down to the Boston Public Library yesterday to get a new library card, listen to some music, and pick up some summer reads.  All books will be coming from the BPL or Porter Square Books.  For your convenience, I have linked some of the book images to Porter Square Books.  My very biased opinion is that you all skip Amazon this summer and step into a library or indie bookstore.  (Stepping off soapbox) And now, here is what I am reading.

Brand-spanking-new library card!
Ready for summer reading action!

Took a little trip to the courtyard at BPL,
after picking up my card, to listen to music


My co-teacher Cara and I are going to read the Gabo book together.  My list of unread Garcia Marquez books is dwindling so the pickins' were slim.  This summer we will be tackling In Evil Hour.  He wrote this book just before writing One Hundred Years of Solitude and, as in other books of his, the last names are very familiar to the reader.  In Evil Hour tells the tale of a river town in Columbia haunted by anonymous notes plastered all over town (lampoons) that reveal the secrets of the people in the town.  This week has been nice and humid, which is always the best time to read Gabo's books. I started it in the Public Garden and it has already seen its fair share of hammock time.

Picked up this guy from Porter Square Books!

My second book was a bit of a last minute addition. I heard a little snippet on NPR the other day about summer books to read and The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson was mentioned.  The book tells the story of a 12-year old cartographer who is selected to win an award from the Smithsonian.  However, they do not know he is a 12-year old boy because someone has been secretly submitting his work.   Spivet begins a journey across the country via train to receive his award.  Along the way, he maps everything he sees and hears. The book sounds delicious and the artwork/sketches in the margins make it that much more appealing.



The sign of a good book

In the margins of T.S. Spivet

This map of Boston was on the floor of the BPL.
Felt very appropriate with a copy of T.S. Spivet in my hands

For the rest of the books, I am going to cheat.  I'm long past the brain capacity to actually choose a list of books.  Kate DiCamillo, who I consider my bff author even though she has no idea who I am, created her own summer reading list about a month ago.  Soooo, I finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks earlier this week(READ THIS!), I have moved on to Gabo, T.S. Spivet next, and then I am going to just read everything Kate said to read.  I mean, if my real bff made my summer reading list I would go with it so I am just pretending that while she made her list for the masses, it was really me she had in mind.  Not creepy at all, right?

Kate's picks on my list:
(For her reasons why, click on the link above.  To buy these from PSB, click on the captions.)

Counting by 7s

Under the Egg

Half a Chance

How I Discovered Poetry


Kate also recommended The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, but I have already read those so I am passing on them.

Now that you know what I'm reading, send me your lists!!  I'll post whatever you send and many other folks will benefit!
Saw this carousel after leaving the library.  Just
had to hop on despite the odd looks for not having
any kids with me.  Can't resist a carousel in the summer!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Popsicles, Hammocks, and Books, Oh My!


This summer I have decided to try my hand at making homemade popsicles of a different variety every week.  I was inspired by the popsicles I made in the last week of school with one of my students.   Jessie even tried her own banana popsicles a couple of weeks ago.


Nikolas and I have been enjoying
a lot of hammock time!

So, last week, armed with a day of prep work, I started the first round of popsicles.  I found a recipe for Salted Bourbon Caramel Popsicles from the site Autumn Makes & Does.  The recipe called for a very special ingredient: Fat Toad Farm's salted bourbon goat's milk caramel.  After perusing Fat Toad Farm's website, I found a list of places that were supposed to sell the stuff.  My first stop, Cambridge Naturals, said they no longer carried it.  I was in luck, however, when my next stop at Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square, Somerville, had a whole bunch of the yummy stuff on their shelves.  (ProTip:  This stuff is not cheap.  It is obviously worth every penny but don't say I didn't warn ya.)

I couldn't buy just one!
The rest of the ingredients were just a few simple things I mostly had at home already.  Overall, we rated these a little bit lower than Jessie's banana popsicles but still yummy.  Geoff suggested adding banana and I can also see adding a chocolate coating to these.  Our rating system is still being developed and hopefully it will be done before we move on to this week's popsicles.


I used two different molds.
This classic mold was a little harder
to use but got the job done.

These molds are fancier but I'm not
too keen on the shape of the popsicle.

Salted Bourbon Caramel Pops

Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6

Salted Bourbon Caramel Popsicles

Ingredients
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons Fat Toad Farm Salted Bourbon Goat's Milk Caramel
  • 1¾ cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Heat the heavy cream and cinnamon sticks over medium heat in a small saucepan until it begins to simmer. Keep your eye on it because it won't take long.
  2. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes. In the meantime prepare 6 popsicle molds and sticks.
  3. After 30 minutes, remove the cinnamon sticks and pour the heavy cream into a large bowl. Whisk the caramel into the cream until fully incorporated. Gradually add the milk, whisking to combine, then stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the mixture into molds.
  5. Freeze according to the instructions for your specific popsicle mold system. If your molds don't have something to hold the sticks in place, freeze the pops for about an hour and a half, then insert the sticks.
  6. Freeze until solid.
My book pairing for these bad boys would have to be Heidi by Johanna Spyri because of the nod to goat's milk in this recipe.  The tale of a young girl being raised in the Swiss Alps was one of my favorite's as a child.  It always made me happy to be living on a farm.


Grab a book and enjoy these popsicles!

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Don't Know, Alaska (get it!?!)

About a month ago I received a package in the mail.  I was quite excited because I hardly ever get real mail, let alone a package.  The package was delivered from Juneau, Alaska.  This was even more surprising because, although I do know people in Juneau, I wasn't expecting anything from them.

It turns out, that it was from the person I know!  My mom's two sisters, Julie and Martha, live in Juneau.  Sadly, I have not taken the opportunity to visit but will definitely do so as soon as I can.  My Aunt Julie sent me a lovely card and a stack of children's books.  She explained that she reads my blog (!!  so excited to hear that!!  Hi Julie!!) and she wanted to send me some books about Alaska to add to my collection.

Some girls like flowers, some like chocolates...this girl loves books!  It was about the best darn surprise ever and I feel terrible it has taken me so long to post about the marvelous collection that I now have.  After reading these books, I am even more motivated to get to Alaska and I know you will be too.  Happy reading!

 I Would Tuck You In by Sarah Asper-Smith and Mitchell Watley

I Would Tuck You In  is a story about unconditional love told through the perspective of different animals that live in or near Alaska.  It is similar in format to Mama, Do You Love Me? and seeks to answer that childhood wonder about whether or not your parents will love you no matter what.  In this story, the narrator describes her love for her little one by describing how she would love her child if she were an octopus, a bear, a rufous hummingbird, etc.  The authors add a little nonfiction flair by stating facts on the corner of every page that connect to the animals and how they show their love.  One of my favorites is the love of the snowshoe hare.  "If you were a snowshoe hair...I would change my colors to play hide and seek with you," states the narrator.  The fact added reads, "Snowshoe hares change from brown in the summer to white in the winter for camouflage (to blend in with their surroundings)."  Amazing!!

A page from I Would Tuck You In

 Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse, illustrated by Barbara Lavallee

This is the one Alaska book in the pile that I had actually read before.  The story is of a young Inuit girl testing her mother's love by asking how much she actually loves her.  She wonders if her mother loves her more than a dog loves his tail, if she would love her if she broke all the ptarmigan eggs, if she would love her if she threw water at the lamp, etc.  The mother patiently responds every time that although she would be upset at times, she would always love her Little One.  Just as in I Would Tuck You In, the author and illustrator throw in some nonfiction. Below the dedication, the illustrator describes the traditional masks that are seen throughout the book.  At the end, the author gives more information about the Alaska-specific parts of the story.  I know you were wondering about the ptarmigan eggs, right?  Well, the book will tell you all about it.

 I Would Tuck You In and Mama, Do You Love Me? are both great stories to give to new parents to read to their bundles of joy (and bundles of other stuff too.)



King Island Christmas by Jean Rogers, illustrated by Rie Muñoz

King Island is an island in the Bering Seat where 150 Inupiaq Eskimos used to live.  However, in 1964, the Bureau of Indian affairs closed the school that was located there and relocated the people to the outskirts of Nome, Alaska. King Island Christmas tells the true story that illustrator Rie Muñoz lived between 1951 and 1952.  That was the winter that a new priest was supposed to come to the island but couldn't quite make it.  This story is a story of a small community coming together to overcome great odds.  Definitely add this to your holiday collection.  (You might just see it pop up again this Christmas on my list!)





 Once Upon Alaska: A kid's photo book by Mark Kelley, photos by Nick Jans

Nick Jans and Mark Kelley join forces to highlight the beauty that is Alaska in this book of spectacular photographs.  Nick captures the wildlife, scenery, and day to day life of people living in Alaska while Mark pairs it with a story in verse to describe what makes Alaska beautiful.  Whale tales, rainbows, mountains, and glaciers grace the pages and make you want to start looking into plane tickets to the Last Frontier.  It certainly did that for me!  I particularly love that the author and photographer included their own families into the book.  Kids will love seeing a world unlike anything they have ever seen.  The movement of the font and the large print also make it easy for your little ones to tackle this on their own, practicing all those important reading skills they have been learning in school.  My favorite photo?  Aurora Borealis, of course.  It is on my bucket list of things to see before I am too old to leave my home.  This is a great companion book to all the fictional stories about Alaska.

I will see it someday!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer, Summer, Summer Time!

Tomorrow is the first official day of summer so it is only appropriate that we start this thing together with a Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff hit.  Dance Friday and the eve of summer...perfection!  Have a popsicle!



How I used to spend my summers...
fishing with the fam up in the Muskoka
Lakes of Ontario, Canada
(That's me in the front!)



Thursday, June 19, 2014

So It Was Like This...

I have like 7 blog posts ready to whip out but I was missing a bit of info and I have been sitting on them since, well, since the last time I posted.  The last two weeks of school are always a tornado of wrapping up projects, cleaning the room, saying goodbye, and lots and lots of paperwork. Yesterday I left work not quite feeling a sense of completion like I have in the past.  I was a little worried about my ability to step away from such an intense year, to let go, and to just relax.  However, an evening out with good friends, some wine and dessert with some lovely Italians, and sleeping in this morning has set me right again.

So, I am going to start getting these posts out.  But first, here is an update on what I have been up to since you last heard from me.

I finished my purple giraffe for my
bff's new daughter

Pretty happy with how it turned out

Mandatory NJP pic

Brought him to Miss Persephone Hope
Turns out he is HUGE
It was our second date.
I am going by "Grandpa Meg"
Made Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicles
with one of my students.
Went on a spontaneous trip to
Stowe, VT.  Beautiful!
Jessie took me on a surprise sister
date to go horseback riding in NH!

Went to my first Red Sox game since I've been back in Boston.
Went with the roomies and my school.
So, now you get it?  Busy!  I'm ready to relax, read, write, sit in the hammock, relax, relax, relax.  I'm taking a drawing class this summer and I will be making a new type of popsicle every week.  Reading list is coming soon.  I hope you are all enjoying some beautiful weather!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Begin Summer.....NOW!

Just walked in the door, dropped my stuff, opened up a frosty beverage, and plopped myself in the good ol' hammock.  I know it has been a while since I've posted anything but it has been a sprint to the end.  More later.  For now, cheers!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

When You are Sick and It is Finally Sunny

It looks like June is coming in with a week of beautiful weather.  This former California girl couldn't be happier.  I didn't manage to shake the cold yet so I slept in with windows open, made myself some coffee and french toast when I got out of bed around noon, and then shuffled out to the back deck to dine.

I may not be able to breath through my nose but fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for the spirit.  Nikolas and I spent some quality time out back, as well as some rest in the hammock!  Now I am going to attempt to walk downtown.  I just can't waste a single nice day in my new home, sick or not!

I hope you all are enjoying some sunshine somewhere!

Brunch with my favorite orange guy

YES!!  You will find me here most
of the summer.