The Weekend in the Lehigh Valley

Susan of Heart to Hearth sorting beans at the fall 2008 Powwow.

Susan of Heart to Hearth sorting beans at the fall 2008 Powwow.

It one of those weekends in the Lehigh Valley when everything is happening at once and unfortunately, I can’t be at everywhere at the same time. Damn!

Guess what they were roasting over the fire at the Powwow?

Guess what they were roasting over the fire at the Powwow?

I’m preparing the the Museum of Indian Culture’s May Powwow, the Planting Corn Festival. Look for me demonstrating quillwork in the Lifeways area of the Powwow.  Kids can make drums and rainsticks in the childrens area. Learn more about Native living in the past and present through demonstrations and watching Native American Indians in regalia dancing to the beat of the drum. The Powwow has representatives from Native tribes across North America, dancing, singing and having a good time.

The swearing is because it’s also the opening weekend for the Easton Farmer’s Market. I’ve been craving a good, fresh salad. And this year’s vendors include a winery, cheese monger, soap and salsa, along with the fresh produce. A little vino and cheese with that salad?

Okay, so maybe I should save the swearing because the Farmer’s Market runs until October, so there’s always next Saturday. Check out this interesting article about the new crop of farmers (pun intended) at the Farm Market this year.

May 2 is also the Easton House Tour. That’s where you to go inside the interesting old houses and the historical buildings in the Easton. This tour has been going on for years and I’ve been missing it for years.

One of these days…

A Seuss-ish Celebration

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The Whacky Waffle Cake

It was a whacky day, a whacky day, indeed,
As we celebrated the 6 years of life of our little prodigy.

A birthday, yes, a birthday for a girl learning to read,
Who discovered the magic of Dr. Seuss’s rhyming scheme.

So her Momma decide this day could not be ordinary,
But needed flair and fun and something quite extraordinary.

While papa sat reading Happy Birthday To You! at the family breakfast table,
Momma was in the kitchen baking waffles and getting syrup of the maple.

And while Papa read these silly, funny words of the Seuss,
Momma was preparing a cake quite obtuse.

Because a Seuss-ish celebration deserved more than a cake,
It deserved a whacky, wonderful waffle cake
That only a whacky wonderful Momma could make.

Okay, enough rhyming already!

Yes, it was birthday time at the Newquist household..yet again. We’d been celebrating since Sunday with dinners and gifts. My 6-year-old, who is learning how to read, has taken a liking to Dr. Seuss, so I thought a Seuss-ish celebration in order.

Side view of the Whacky Waffle Cake

Side view of the Whacky Waffle Cake. The image is blurry because the cake is probably falling.

The best part was the Whacky Waffle cake I conceived–not well, I might add, because it kept falling over. But no one cared. It was made with frozen waffles (cooked, of course), whipped cream (from a can!), plus strawberries and pomegranates.

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My read husband his childhood copy of  Happy Birthday To You! by Dr. Seuss.

The Great Birthday Bird came by…

The Great Birthday Bird has quite the hooked beak, you know.

The Great Birthday Bird has quite the hooked beak, you know.

And delivered a few gifts, such as a new pet. We didn’t have time to go to the Official Katroo Birthday Pet Reservation. Plus, with dogs and cats and fish and turtles, I really didn’t think we had the room to house a pet from the Katroo Birthday Pet Reservation, not the smallest nor the tallest. So instead we went for a new Littlest Pet Shop horse.

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We didn’t make it through the whole story because the cake kept falling over and the kids really just wanted the whipped cream out of the can (I never buy that).

My 6-year-old thought the Seuss theme, plus her own digital camera (which is now making a living record of our lives) made it the “Best birthday ever!”

Honestly, though, I can probably save myself a lot of time and effort next year by giving her some gifts and a spray can of whipped cream to eat on everything!

Whacky Waffle Cake

Ingredients:

20 frozen waffles (yes, frozen. Save yourself the trouble of making them.)

4-8 wooden skewers

1 can whipped cream

fruit, such a s strawberries, blueberries or bananas (as garnish and to claim this breakfast is actually nutritious)

Directions:

Bake waffles according to package directions.

Stack a few waffles haphazardly.

Plunge in wooden skewers in different directions.

Pile fruit on top of waffles.

Slide more waffles onto skewers haphazardly.

Embellish with more whipped cream than necessary.

Quick! To the table! Before it falls over! Don’t impale yourself on skewers trying to save the cake. Better yet, trim the skewers if you have time.

Watch the whole thing topple over.

Eat off the table with hands like heathens (more whipped cream, of course)

Serves: A bunch o’ whacky waffle eaters from Katroo or Easton or Macungie.

*****And remember: Just a few more days for you to leave a comment to be entered to win prizes from Red-Tail Designs!*****

Impressionism in 8 minutes

The kids re-create Monet's waterlillies using felt board and felt cutouts.

The kids re-create Monet's waterlillies using felt board and felt cutouts.

Here’s the art history class I wish I had in college:

..and now on to Impressionism. There’s a girl dancing…a field of hay…a vase of pretty flowers…some waves…and…we’re done. Now let’s go paint something.

The horse sculpture outside the Allentown Art Museum.

The horse sculpture outside the Allentown Art Museum.

That was the art history lesson I had Sunday with my kids when we went to see Monet to Matisse: French Masterworks from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens at the Allentown Art Museum. Just like me, they didn’t feel the need to know exactly who painted what in exactly what year. They just knew if they liked it or not.

My daughter wanted to see Degas’ paintings (girl = ballerinas!), and she recognized the waterlilies of Monet that were featured in the Artways gallery. A few weeks ago serendipity led me to borrow The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt from our local library. We’ve since read storybooks about Matisse and Degas from the same author. They were a great set up to the exhibit.

To my 2-year-old son, they were all rather ordinary pictures until we got to the 3oth Juried Show exhibit and Steve Scheuring‘s oil painting “Crash” spoked to his little tiny car-lovin’, truck-drivin’ soul. An entire painting of bright Hot Wheels! Does it get any better than that when you’re 2?

Considering my kids are so young, I think they held out pretty long exploring Impressionism. Mind you, I wasn’t expecting to stand about with them discussing use of color or contemplating brush strokes. But my 5-year-old would have enjoyed the paintings a little longer if she wasn’t so focused on getting to the children’s interactive gallery. That’s what they enjoyed the most, though: painting scarves, using felt to make water lily gardens like Monet and painting with scissors like Matisse.

I’m hoping to go back to the Allentown Art Museum and actually look at the paintings before the Impressionist exhibit leaves on May 3. Maybe I’ll even get to read about the paintings and relearn all that art history shelved in the back of my brain.

Products of a Snow Day

About 6 inches on the ground. A day off from school. Here’s what we made of the snow day Monday.

Left to her own devices my daughter comes up with the cutest stuff, like this spring chick. I’m encouraging more glue useage instead of taping everything. “Look, the beak opens and the wings move,” she said.snday1

A few artist books done. Experimenting with pencil pockets of different shapes. The red flowers on white background  (journal at bottom of photo) were snipped from a shirt my daughter outgrew years ago, but the shirt was to worn out to pass on to cousins.

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Steamy cups of homemade hot chocolate after throwing snow balls, shoveling sidewalks and playing with snowy dogs.

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Books read when we piled into bed for an afternoon snuggle. The kids were given a one time only offer: eat Smarties in mom’s bed while she read to them. I was sipping a vanilla chai.

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“Asparagus Eggs” (as we call it), our favorite Martha Stewart recipe. Delicious, nutritious dinner in a flash.

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Snow days are such a pleasant treat!

*****UPDATE******

For those of you who couldn’t see the link to the Martha Stewart recipe, here it is, from the May/June 2003 Everyday Food magazine

Egg and Toast Ideas

Serves 4

  • 1/2 tablespoon softened butter
  • 4 slices (1 inch thick) hearty white bread
  • 4 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • TOPPING IDEAS
  • Asparagus, Fontina, and Dijon Mustard: Divide 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 8 stalks blanched asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths, and 1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese among toasts.
  • Ham and Gruyere: Divide 4 ounces thinly sliced ham and 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese among toasts.
  • Tomato, Cheddar, and Canadian Bacon: Divide 2 chopped plum tomatoes, 4 ounces diced Canadian bacon, and 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese among toasts.
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread 1/2 tablespoon softened butter over one side of each of 4 slices (1 inch thick) hearty white bread. Place each piece of bread, buttered side down, on a baking sheet.
  2. Using your fingers, create a well in the center of the bread, being careful not to tear it.
  3. Break 1 large egg into each well, keeping the yolk intact; cover bread with desired topping, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake until the cheese has melted and the egg is set but slightly runny when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Check the toasts frequently because eggs set quickly.

Happy New Year!

Have a sip of homemade cherry cordial to ring in 2009.

Have a sip of homemade cherry cordial to ring in 2009.

Happy New Year! I hope your celebrations went well last night and you all filled your bellies with pork, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes today.

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported me this past year.

Thanks to all the customers who bought products from me, all the family who babysat my kids so I could work, all the friends who I vented to and, of course, to my kids who had to wait to play Monopoly until mommy shipped out this one last package.

May all of you have a wonderfully happy, healthy and prosperous 2009!

Wrapping Paper Beads

My little holiday gift to you: an idea for all that post-holiday wrapping paper you’ve accumulated.

Supplies

  • Wrapping paper, catalogs or any colorful paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue, such as Elmers
  • Wooden skewer, or other thin rod

Directions:

1. Flatten the wrapping paper and cut out a long skinny isosceles (equal on two sides) triangle.

2. Place the design-side of the paper on the table and fold the widest end of the triangle back on itself about 1/4 inch.

3. Roll the paper around the skewer, beginning at the shortest side of the triangle and ending at the point of the triangle. Don’t let go or the whole thing will unravel.

4. Place a dab of glue at the point on the wrong side of the paper and press firmly to the rest of the paper. Your first bead! Carefully slide the bead off the skewer and allow it to dry.

5. Repeat with more paper until you have enough beads to make a bracelet, a necklace, a skirt, curtains for every window in your house.

Not only can you have fun, you can get your geometry in the for the day. Experiment with different widths and lengths of triangles to see how the beads turn out.

If you don’t manage to make all your wrapping paper into beads, see if you can recycle it at your local recycling center.

Happy Holidays!

Off to the Snail Races!

Aren’t these the happiest snails you’ve ever seen? When I saw this pattern for snail races a month ago, I knew this was the perfect gift for my nephew’s first birthday. It’s so cute!

The snails are made from the same sweater I used for the handwarmers. I think i have just enough sweater left to make my 2-year-old a snail racing game, too.

I made a few modifications to the game.

The snails advance on the racetrack by color rather than number, using a big colored dice I “borrowed” from another game. The color blocks on the racetrack are 13″ by 4 1/2″ pieces of fabric, stitched together and surrounded by blue bias tape.

The top of the racetrack is open so the snails can nestle inside for storage. I stitched between the green and yellow color blocks so the kids can’t shove the snails all the way to the bottom.

Snails going to bed.

Snails going to bed.

Snaps (yeah for Melody’s new snap setter!) keep them snug.

Snapping the snails into bed. Yet another 30 minutes of entertainment for the kids beyond the gameplaying!

Snapping the snails into bed. Yet another 30 minutes of entertainment for the kids beyond the gameplaying!

Snug as snails in a racetrack.

Snug as snails in a racetrack.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

The American Girl Catalog with a multitude of sticky notes spewing out the top.

The American Girl Catalog with a multitude of sticky notes spewing out the top.

Exactly 15 minutes after this American Girl catalog arrived in our mail box today, it was tagged with sticky notes to demark “the pages that have things I like.” My 5-year-old ooh-ed and aaah-ed and I-want-thised all the the way through all 63 pages.

We’re not American Girl afficiandos (yet), but I passed it along to my 5-year-old. One look at it and she said, “I’ll get the sticky notes.”

That made me smile. My beading catalogs immediately become tasseled with sticky notes when they arrive in my mailbox. Finally, proof that my child (who looks like her dad) has some of my genetic material. Or just good training.

Good luck, Santa! This is just the beginning of the sticky note frenzy.

A Pale Shade of Pink

Leave some of the peel in the apple sauce turns it this pretty pink color.

Leave some of the peel in the apple sauce turns it this pretty pink color.

I’m feeling like a chipmunk! These last few weeks have been a flurry of canning, freezing, drying and generally storing away as much food as I can for the winter. I forgot that summer isn’t about sitting back to enjoy the sun and margaritas, it’s about storing as one season of fresh fruit and veggies melds into the next.

Since the hurricane apple-picking, I’ve been making dried apples and applesauce. I wanted to share an ultra-fast recipe for making applesauce in the pressure cooker.

My little apple washer.

My little apple washer.

With my two tools of choice–a pressure cooker and a crank apple peeler–I can make 2 quarts of applesauce in 30 minutes.

The key to getting the pretty pink color is to leave some of the peel on the apples. The last step will grind up any peel.

This dojiggy peels and slices all with a crank of the handle.

A peeler/corer/slicer like this is "in season" at many grocery and kitchen stores right now. Or search on Amazon.com.

1. Peel, core and slice apples. Apples should be same size for even cooking.

2. Fill pressure cooker about 3/4 full of apples (there should be a line on your pressure cooker). Add 1/2 cup water.

The apples after cooking in the pressure cooker for about 10 minutes.

The apples after cooking in the pressure cooker for about 10 minutes.

3. Cook until pressure regulator begins to rock gently. Remove from heat and cool under cold water.

4. Run applesauce through food processor to smooth out the lumps.

*******Update: This process works with just about any fruit you want to make into sauce. The options I’ve tried:

  • Applesauce
  • Peach Sauce
  • Apple-plum Sauce
  • Blueberry-peach sauce
  • Rhubarb sauce
  • Peach-plum sauce
  • Strawberry-rhubarb sauce
  • Pear sauce

They’ve all been good. Anything tart, like rhubarb, plums or not quite ripe peaches, may require 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar. *******

Fall Fun

Guide to the fall hotspots in the neighborhood

Guide to the fall hotspots in the neighborhood

I always thought of myself as a packrat, but maybe I’m really part squirrel. This realization came today as I weaved through the streets of our town showing three kids where all the “good trees” are, those dumping acorns and beech nuts and colored leaves.

Swirly squirrely mask.

Swirly squirrely mask.

Autumn is here. So says the calendar today. So said my mom yesterday. “A fall party,” was my 5-year-old’s answer to celebrating the beginning of fall. Did I really expect a different answer from her?

By this morning she’d concocted grand plans of 5 friends, handmade invites, decorations wafting from the ceiling and treats. All to be accomplished in the 4 hours before school.

I was thinking more along the lines of collecting colorful leaves for this craft.

When her Monday Morning comrade arrived we took to the neighborhood streets, my memory of nuts guiding us to the beechnuts and acorns, hemlock cones and chestnuts. Honestly, it’s amazing we have such variety here in little ol’ Easton.

Back at home they ate walnuts and pecans for a snack (like squirrels) and started the craft. The 5-year-olds loved cutting the spirals and the fall streamers slowly devolved into masks, many of them squirrel masks. Moms know how deviating from the craft is both endearing and infuriating at the same time…after I got out all the supplies for the craft we were supposed to do. But I’ll save that rant for another day.

Two 5-year-olds with screwdrivers make short work of my chair.

Two 5-year-olds with screwdrivers make short work of my chair.

We had some time to kill before going to school, so I gave the two 5-year-olds screwdrivers and told them to take apart a chair that had seen its better days. The only thing the chair had to do with autumn was that it was fall-ing apart. They thought the joke was funny.

My plans of celebrating fall with a cute craft ended in me making one fall spiral. I like it. I think they had more fun taking the chair apart (after removing screws, I let them bust it apart with a rubber mallet). Maybe tomorrow I can convince my kids to glue leaves and nuts to another spiral. Or maybe we’ll just destroy another chair.

Come to think of it, the plumber’s coming tomorrow to bust up the basement and make the sump pump hole bigger. Maybe the kids can get in on some sledge hammer action.

Happy autumn!

My (rather pathetic) fall swirly streamer.

My (rather pathetic) fall swirly streamer.