Just for Fun

Visiting the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Discovering “The Learning Center”

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I’ve been to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum many times since I moved to Minnesota but today was the first time I’ve been to The Learning Center. The play areas reminded me a little bit of the outdoor play areas of Wood Lake Nature Center and the Tamarack Nature Center. As far as young children go, this was probably the best of the three!

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I was amazed and surprised at all I’ve been missing out on! They have beautiful outdoor spaces for toddlers and preschoolers and a garden where summer camp kids grow vegetables.

Inside they were having a special event and activities related to bees. We spent half the day at The Learning Center alone!

Inside the greenhouse. The little butterfly hat was an art project they had set up for the kids to enjoy.

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Flowers in the greenhouse.

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The children are spraying the plants in the greenhouse with water bottles provided by the arboretum for visitors to use.

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In honor of “Bee Day” they had a bee costume for kids to try on.

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Some sort of bird house in one of the four outdoor areas surrounding the Center.

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The first free outdoor lending library and outdoor reading area I’ve ever seen. There was a canopy of crabapple trees and birdfeeders all around. More nature play objects as well.

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Enjoying one of the books on birds and the sheltered reading area.

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Each outdoor space as items for the children to use and to enjoy. Most of the items for creative play were items found in nature.

I think the children enjoyed this table the most. They painted slices of tree trunks with paintbrushes and water.

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An interesting crawl space/fort made of iron stakes and some sort of mesh-like burlap.

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This area had a water spout and PVC tubes to build waterways.

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“The Capital View Cafe”: A Hidden Brunch Gem in St. Paul, MN

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I love “The Capital View Cafe,” a local diner/restaurant located on the outskirts of downtown St. Paul, MN. And more importantly I loved the mommy/daughter brunch we had there today. It’s warm and cozy; the staff are nice; and everyone appreciated my daughter’s unique sense of style and self expression. Plus, the kid’s meal consisted of a HUGE plate of eggs, bacon, pancake, and a drink for the low price of $5.00. Can’t beat it. We’ll be back. We LOVE pancakes.

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My Four Year Old’s Art Studio

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Here’s my little artist. She loves to paint and asks me to paint several times a week. You’ll notice she is rinsing her brush in a ceramic cup. After getting them in and out of hall closet so many times I decided to keep them in the cupboard you see in the background. I put a painting shirt, art rags to dry her brushes on, the box of brushes and the cup in that cupboard. She can get the cup out and fill it with water; get out her towels and her paint shirt. That leaves less for me to do when she asks to paint. Her paint shirt was in the wash so she’s wearing an over the head bib made out of a dishcloth that she got from her grandma as a baby.

The acrylics below I got on Ebay.

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The canvases I also bought on Ebay in bulk.

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The Elmo drop cloth keeps clean up nice and easy and avoids paint on the rug. Notice the table she is working on. It was originally a train table that I made for her but now it is her arts and crafts table. It’s good because it is close to the floor so there is less for me to monitor when she is working on something.

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“Humanimal” at the Open Eye Figure Theatre: Limited Time. You GOTTA Go!

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Kevin Kling is AMAZING. He’s funny, smart, creative, thought-provoking and he’s a story teller. Add to that two amazing cellists and one out of this world singer/performer and you have yourself a night at the theater.

And not just any theatre but the “Open Eye Figure Theatre” in South Minneapolis.

Go online NOW to get your tickets. You will not be disappointed.

FROM THEIR WEBSITE:

“Kevin Kling, nationally known storyteller and Artist-in-Residence at Minnesota Public Radio, returns this August to the Open Eye stage for the seventh consecutive year. Since 2007, Mr. Kling has delighted Open Eye audiences with work exploring themes of politics (Politico, 2012), religion (Joice Rejoice, 2011), fairy tale (Folks and Heroes, 2010), trauma recovery (Flight, 2009) and more.

This year he brings us Humanimal — a work that explores the lives of humans with their animals (or is it the lives of animals with their humans?). He will be joined by perennial collaborators Michael Sommers, Simone Perrin, Jacqueline Ultan, and Michelle Kinney to create an evening of story, song, and imagery.

Mr. Kling draws inspiration for Humanimal from the work of Jack London’s White Fang and Call of the Wild, knowing we are all either drawn to the wild or repelled by it. Humanimal follows the journey of the human/animal connection — beginning with its rough start, then moving through a period of mutual understanding and respect until finally, as so often happens, it comes down to “Who-Done-Who-Wrong” or “I will always love you”. 

This limited run is not to be missed. For those who know Mr. Kling’s work through MPR broadcasts or Fitzgerald Theater performances, Open Eye’s intimate 90-seat venue provides a rare opportunity to hear his stories up close, as if he were sitting in your own living room. Kevin Kling is a superb storyteller whose tales can revive a soul. In these tales, it just may be the animal that revives the human soul.

NOTE: This production contains adult language — some of the animals in these stories swear.  Consider this show to have the equivalent of a PG-13 rating.”

Related Post:

https://singlemomontherun.com/2013/07/13/smallest-theater-in-minneapolis-maybe-but-also-one-of-the-best/

Kombucha: Fermentation, Fungus, Bacteria Goodness!

IMG_2221 So, the truth comes out. I’m kind of a nerd.

I made this bacterial fungal fermented tea at my house that is supposed to be full of probiotics and other good stuff and I’m super excited. I was even more excited until I found out it could make you sick or kill you (very rare).

But then I figured that people have been doing this for thousands of years so how bad could it really be. Also, one of the arguments is that there haven’t been any human studies (only animal studies and, interestingly, Kombucha did not harm rats and in some instances resulted in health improvements on the little guys).

Then a friend of mine made an interesting point. She said, “I figure the large population of people making Kombucha at home IS our human study.” Very wise. If Kombucha were killing people right and left we’d be hearing a lot more about it. The Bird Flu and West Nile Virus get a lot more attention than home-Kombucha-making ever has so I figure I should be good to go. I have been told that if you’re immuno-suppressed or compromised this might not be the drink for you.

The only thing you really need to watch out for is the mold and there are a lot of pictures and descriptions on the web to help you with that. The samples below do NOT have mold on them. Based on my research, I have deemed these healthy Kombucha samples.

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MOLD

Although you might think the above three pictures of the same bottle of Kombucha is moldy, it’s not. That big blob of stuff is called a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts). The scoby eats the sugar and ferments the brewed tea that I added to it. The brown specks are from loose tea that made its way into the jar. The white part is actually smooth, not fuzzy like you would see on cheese.

If it is fuzzy like the mold you find on cheese or bread then you throw everything out and start fresh. I looked for information telling me I might die from the mold but I couldn’t find anything that remotely suggested that, so that was comforting.

So here’s some good info: “Mold tends to grow especially when the Kombucha mushroom is lifted out of the liquid by its own gases. Keeping it covered with liquid in the later stages, i.e. when the new Kombucha mushroom starts growing, can successfully prevent mold from growing.” (Wikipedia)

With each batch a new round white disc grows on the top. This is the new Kombucha “mushroom” as some like to call it. Also, I read that it is important to disinfect and clean your hands and the jars with white vinegar, not soap. Somehow soap can lead to the introduction of bacteria.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Below are various views of the same jar of seven-day fermented Kombucha. You’re not supposed to fiddle around with the stuff while it is brewing. I did take a peek a few times to make sure I didn’t see any mold growing. It was interesting to watch the bubbles start to develop as the yeast and bacteria were eating up the sugar. Similar to the process of rising when you make bread.

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MAKING THE KOMBUCHA

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So the way you make Kombucha is to brew about a quart of tea and dissolve a little over a cup of sugar in the warm liquid. When it is warm (not hot) add it to the scoby that is resting in your gallon jar in a few inches of water or Kombucha from the last batch.

Fill the remainder of the jar up with water leaving a few inches of room at the top.

Cover the jar with a paper towel and put a rubber band around the top. This is to prevent fruit flies from getting in. I had fruit flies in my kitchen from the compost and they didn’t bother my Kombucha in the dining room at all.

The Kombucha needs to be stored in a warm, dark place. Some people store their Kombucha in a dark cupboard but my cupboards are all full so I left it on the dining room table with a towel over it to keep out the light.

Brewing takes a minimum of seven days. The further out from seven days you go the more acidic or vinegar-like it gets. I prefer it a little sweeter so I went right up to seven days and then took it out.

I have a second jar I’m going to let go until 10 days so I can see what the difference in taste is. If you let it go several weeks it will get to some vinegar like state and you can do something with that but I’m not sure what. You can also experiment with green and black teas. Some say they need to be caffeinated. Teas with oils as flavors (like Earl Grey) are not recommended as they can harm the scoby.

Flavors from fruits can be added later, after the brewing is done, but I haven’t tried that yet either.

SCOBY HOTEL

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On the left, the jar with the paper towel on it has a scoby on the bottom. This is my scoby hotel where I am going to store my scobies for use as I want them. The jar on the right is the one that I haven’t poured into jars yet and am going to let ferment for a few more days.

WHAT TO DO WHEN IT IS DONE

Below you will see the plastic and glass jars that I poured my completed Kombucha into. I will store them in the fridge until I’m ready to drink them. I’m hoping they won’t lose their carbonation in the larger containers if I only drink some at a time. I think it will be like any soda. If there is a large amount of air in the container, the Kombucha will eventually lose its fizz.

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Refrigerate, drink and enjoy! I know I will. Hopefully I’ll survive 🙂

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kombucha-tea/AN01658 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha http://kombuchablog.com/kombucha/

Smallest Theater In Minneapolis? Maybe…But Also One of the Best!

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www.openeyetheatre.org

I love taking my child to the theatre and I’m pretty sure she likes it to. However, the major children’s theater in Minneapolis/St. Paul, despite its amazing performances, can be pretty pricey. Tonight I discovered a new, community-based theatre that I fell in love with. The theater is the Open Eye Figure Theater and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

The show we saw was Milly and Tillie, and it truly was silly.

I paid full price for our tickets and I believe the total was around $15.00 for both of us. So, given the price and the extras you’ll soon find out about, I was awestruck at the quality of the performance and how the whole experience was truly tailored to children, while keeping adults engaged as well.

 

THE THEATRE
The whole theatre seats 90 people. It is so cute and warm and inviting! Notice the benches in the front. They are about six feet from the stage so the little ones can really get in on the action.

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TICKETS
Tickets are available on-line or in person on the night of the show.  They also had a “pay what you can” option that you could select on-line. Furthermore, they have a “no one will be turned away due to an inability to pay” so just show up for the show you want to see and pay what you can. They are bound to have empty seats.

LOCATION
The theatre is just east of 35W between Franklin and Lake Streets. It looks like a renovated warehouse. From the outside you wouldn’t even know there was a theatre if it weren’t for the chalk drawings on the sidewalk outside. The inside is so warm and cozy and quaint…Just a great feel to it.

PERFORMANCE
This particular performance used both stage actresses, puppets and silhouettes or shadow puppets. The pace was good and the energy amazing. Child and adults alike were entertained for the duration.

The theater was only about a two-thirds full and there was plenty of seating available upfront on the low couch-like pews that are meant for the younger set. If you’re interested in showing up for a performance at the last minute, I would say go for it! Otherwise you can pre-order your tickets on line and just give them your name when you arrive. They have a printed out list of names. Nothing fancy. No frills.

EXTRAS!
The best two things about the Open Eye Figure Theatre (besides the price and the quality) are the sidewalk chalk that children can use before and after the performances and the free ice cream cones that they handed out in the lobby following the show. The show was only 45 minutes long so no intermission was needed. We had a choice of butter brickle or strawberry ice cream in a cake cone. Many patrons hung outside after the show, chatting and socializing.

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COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
While we were waiting for the performance to start a little six year old Latina girl came in and plopped herself down in the front row. One of the three staff came over and checked in with her to see if she was by herself. When she said yes, the staff person said, “That’s okay. That’s cool. Just checking.” I introduced my daughter to her and they became fast friends, getting water together, sitting next to each other on the bench, holding hands while getting ice cream. The little girl said she lived in the neighborhood, which is economically and socially challenged. It was so nice to see that she had a place to go on a Saturday night that was safe and free. During the course of the show I learned that she had seen the performance before. She consoled my four year old during the thunderstorm scene and when Tillie was dressed like a shark she told my daughter that the shark wasn’t real, that is was actually one of the sisters.

I would say this is truly an under-explored community gem…a great place for families, kids and friends, and a community service. Bringing art and drama to low income families. If you have a chance, take your family to see a performance at the Open Eye Theatre. You won’t regret it and your wallet and your spirit won’t either.

For LC, After Her First Birthday: A Poem

For LC, After Her First Birthday

What can I say about a toddler who eats zucchini “noodles”
with garlic sauce at the raw food restaurant
who signs “all done” when through eating and also means
all done with sitting in this bleeping high chair
so get me out of here fast mom or I’ll be yelling and I
mean really, really loud.

How much love is there in this child who waves and says
“Hi” to everyone she meets in the food co-op
who blows kisses to the dog in an adjacent car
who plays throw and retrieve the ball
with her dog-sister Maddy who may not be enjoying
the game quite that much, if at all.

Can you measure the determination powering this girl
who takes each challenge and wrestles it to the ground
until she triumphs over that chair she wants to climb into
or some step blocking her way or the yogurt she insists on
eating with her fingers and don’t help me at all, please,
you know I want to, have to, do it all myself
help. not. needed.

What lies out there in the world for this freshly formed person
who delights in each day and the wonders it will hold
who embraces the new and welcomes it to her heart
whose thirteen-month lifetime has grown butterfly wings
like silk so fragile and so incredibly strong
that will lift her gracefully until she is ready to soar.

Brenda Robert
August 1, 2010

Not Another Mom Blog: NYC Knows What’s Breast

Let’s hear it for New York!

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Not Another Mom Blog is a regular satirical feature exploring all the vital, life-saving, keeping-your-child-from-growing-old-alone advice out there. NAMB: Because every mother needs something else to worry about.

Hey, I think breastfeeding is awesome. I breast fed, never even considered not breastfeeding, and I enjoyed doing it. Breast is the freakin’ best.

Good thing Mayor Bloomberg has finally realized this fact and is implementing some real change in NYC hospitals. Moms have so many choices to make on the arrival of their little bundle. Cloth or disposable, infant or convertible seat, whether or not to use gender specific pronouns…But there’s one choice mothers won’t have to make any more—bottle or breast!

Mayor Bloomberg, the world’s foremost expert on childhood nutrition, parenting, and health of all people in general, is also the father of this program that provides relief for those struggling with choosing soft drink sizes. Thankfully, size doesn’t matter with…

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