Category Archives: Green

I don’t grow veggies, but I eat them!

Angelika is a good hobby gardener.  I will not be surprised if she updates us at some point about her beautiful flowers and vegetables.  This is on many people’s minds with planting season upon us. Occasionally I’ve had some luck planting tomatoes or herbs (And I’ve kept a houseplant she gave me alive for a year!) but I don’t have much of a green thumb.

But we love eating our vegetables!  Don’t get me wrong.  The kids will sometimes go a week subsisting off of crackers and air, then will turn around and be the most adventurous eaters you’ve ever met the next. I hesitated writing a post on eating our vegetables because while it arguably fits our nature themes, it can come off as “smug mommy-ish”  and preachy and not everything works for everyone.  But many times I’ll get together with friends and it is a frequently mentioned topic so I figured I had enough resources to make it fun and lighthearted.  Some ideas are common, and some are a bit more out of the box.

  • Let kids help cook them, grow them, or pick their own.  We’ve heard if kids feel more ~ownership~ they’ll be more likely to want to devour them.  Try to make it fun or different.  Friends have told us their kids didn’t like certain meals until they prepped them in the Dutch oven while camping.  But inviting them into the kitchen at home can work, too.

    Strawberry picking is a popular spring tradition around these parts!

    Strawberry picking is a popular spring tradition around these parts!

  • Subscribe to a CSA if you have the opportunity and resources.  We get Heaven’s Harvest and the last I knew Angelika was getting Farmer Dave’s.   Kids get WAY more excited about their vegetables if they come in a box they can tear open like a birthday present every single week, believe me!  I’ve actually found the vegetables turn out about twenty percent cheaper than if you buy even the non-organics at the grocery store but the “downsides” are you don’t get to choose what you want (For us this is a perk! We love surprises!) and you’re asked to pre-pay so the farmers can invest early and pay you back later. This can be tough if finances are tight, but more and more are offering payment plans and/or accepting SNAP.
    Plus, you’re apt to get ~different~ things like ground cherries, a kid-friendly tomato relative that some say taste like a combination of strawberries, mangos and pineapples. Or veggies in strange shapes that are deemed too ugly for the store but are actually loads of fun, and might otherwise go to waste. Do you have a CSA you recommend?
  • Alter its form.  Jessica Seinfeld has her Deceptively Delicious books where she suggests things like pureeing cauliflower into your mac and cheese.  These are good additions, but nutritionists are split on the tactic because they love to encourage people to eat veggies for their own sake.  You may not need to hide things that much.  My girls are actually pretty good at eating most things, but avoid leaves, although they’ve been tentatively using Napa cabbage as a gateway.  But one of their favorite foods is pesto, go figure. Of course it  is traditionally made with basil but can be blended up with kale or chard or broccoli or asparagus or pretty much any green.
My nephew figuring out what to do with his first lobster.  If you understandably don't want to splurge on an entire lobster for a toddler, at least let them try a few bites.

My nephew figuring out what to do with his first lobster. If you understandably don’t want to splurge on an entire lobster for a toddler, at least let them try a few bites.

  • Think outside the box with what a “kid food” is.  More than once, I’ve seen a child get offered something like olives or sushi and the parents said, “No, they won’t like it–they’re a picky eater.” only to see the kid eagerly devour it and hear reports they’ve continued to consume it readily at home.  The kid may only have five things they like, but don’t assume brussels sprouts won’t be the sixth, just because of their rep or because you don’t like them!
  • Trade with friends.  Sometimes my kids will balk at a healthy snack I give them, but they inevitably want to try their friends’ snacks and vice versa.  Obviously this is only recommended with good friends  without known allergies but there have been times I called a friend up and said, “Pssst! I’ll pack the bell pepper slices today if you bring the carrots!” and the kids eagerly snatched up what their friend had even if they would’ve ignored their own because they felt like they were getting away with something.
  • Try a cutesy presentation.  We’ve all heard of ants-on-a-log.  My kids have this plate for sanctioned play-with-your-food time.  This is a common suggestion but an oldie but goodie for a reason.
    The "dinosaur jungle" veggie platter at Bridget's third birthday party.

    The “dinosaur jungle” veggie platter at Bridget’s third birthday party.

    Our turkey shaped cheeseball

    Our turkey shaped cheeseball

  • Play around with condiments and sauces.  Toddlers, especially, love dipping their food in all manner of things.  Put out some mini-ramekins filled with a variety of choices and you might find the veggie sticks gone.  Be careful, as many condiments have added sugar, but there are many without and you still might prefer the sweet dips on grape tomatoes versus chips.  And yes, the kids might want to do things that sound odd to you like putting strawberry cream cheese on eggplant or soy sauce on apples.  Let them!  We only cringe because we’re socialized to.  If they are things you’d let them eat in other combinations, don’t stop them!  It probably won’t last forever and it is getting it into them.
    Bridget will choose a pickle the size of her leg over fried stuff at the fair every single time, IF she's allowed to slather it in mustard.

    Bridget will choose a pickle the size of her leg over fried stuff at the fair every single time, IF she’s allowed to slather it in mustard.

    Again, this is not one-size-fits-all, and things can be tricker for individuals with medical reasons for their hesitations or for supertasters.  But it can be fun to share experiences and bounce ideas around.  What are your best tips for getting your kids (or spouses or friends) to eat their vegetables?

    The disappointment surrounding their aunt presenting them with fruit instead of birthday cake disappeared when they discovered it had multiple "arms" and flames shooting out of it.

    The disappointment surrounding their aunt presenting them with fruit instead of birthday cake disappeared when they discovered it had multiple “arms” and flames shooting out of it.

 

Granola Strolla Solar Charger Review

Have you ever wanted to head to the playground or out on a hike or to the beach but waited because your phone was about to die and you were expecting a really important phone call?  This charger looks like it’d make it a lot easier to recharge while YOU recharge.

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The Granola Strolla family enjoying the outdoors–just for the sake of it, and to take advantage of their solar charger!

If we sponsored and shared every worthy Kickstarter we stumbled across, we’d have to rename ourselves The Stoneham Review of Interesting, Worthy, and Potentially Very Lucrative Brainstorms and Beyond because there are a lot of brilliant and innovative ideas out there. But this one for the portable Granola Strolla solar charger caught our eyes.  Why?  It shares our mission on multiple levels:

  • most practical when getting outdoors, enjoying nature
  • environmentally friendly
  • while it isn’t geared towards use by small kids, it is more kid-friendly/kid-safe than many solar chargers out there (more on this later)
  • calls on our love of all that is science geeky
  • it is a small family business with local ties

 

 

Here’s the link to the actual Kickstarter to support it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/granolastrolla/granola-strolla-portable-solar-usb-charger

When I first heard about this, I thought, “Well, it is a nice concept, but there are other portable solar charges on the market.  How is this one different?”  Not that any idea is truly unique.  For instance, when I was a kid I thought a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat would be the answer to all the inconveniences of sharing a bathroom with my kid brother.  I was sure I’d be rich and be invited on 3-2-1-Contact or something.  It wasn’t a week later, I saw they were already on the market. Foiled!  So things have got to stand out and be different somehow.  And this one definitely does, in our opinion.  And I daresay it took a lot more thought and engineering than my midnight inspiration.  So I think this one’s got a great shot! How Granola Strolla stands out:

  • they are taking the lead by putting a more eco-friendly Lithium Iron Phosphate battery in it, in addition to a recycled casing.  Their promotional items, rewards, and “swag bags” are natural crafts from local artisans, as well.
  • It’s multi-directional.  This makes it easier to charge with more surface area on multiple sides, and it is also set up to loop easily onto your bag, strollers, or other accessories.  No unfolding or set-up with this one.
  • Its casing makes it more durable and hardier than many solar chargers already on the market.  And it is water-resistant!
  • It is more lightweight than some.  This is especially important when carting around the kids and all their stuff.  Or for backpacking!
  • It is more affordable than much of the competition and will be manufactured in the U.S. to create jobs.

 

See!  Water (drool?) proof and BPA free!

See! Water (drool?) proof and BPA free!

The sturdiness is a big one for me.  Confession time!  I don’t even have a smartphone yet.   I use mine for calls and texts only.  I can sometimes go five days on one phone charge whereas some of my friends make only five hours. (Less worry with Granola Strolla!) But as most of  you know, we’re running off camping constantly.  Usually there is no electrical source to be found!  It can still be good to have a phone or GPS in case of an emergency, or an e-reader if you read as much as we do.  It sounds like this would be a great addition to our camping checklist.

Irene and Ben reside in the Memphis area with their two little boys and their dog and cat but lived in Boston for a while and still have ties and connections here.  They are crafty, creative, and interested in environmental issues.  You can direct questions to their website and also check out the Facebook feed or Twitter @granolastrolla.  Irene also has a business doing custom sewn and  knit designs at Tea With Frodo Designs (which has a giveaway going on this week!).

Their son Garrett and Bridget when they were small.  Perhaps he's saying, "Ok, let's bring these to the playground.  And mommy can charge her camera on her Granola Strolla and take many adorable pictures of us!"  Sadly, it didn't exist then.  But it does now!

Their son Garrett and Bridget when they were small. Perhaps he’s saying, “Ok, let’s bring these to the playground. And mommy can charge her camera on her Granola Strolla and take many adorable pictures of us!” Sadly, it didn’t exist then. But it does now!

They are off to a great start, and are already 15% to their goal not even three days in. (It was very cute when they rewarded themselves with Toblerone–a Granola Strolla shaped treat–for meeting their first micro-goal.)   I think they’ve got a great chance and  an exciting idea that fills a niche.  Support them, or consider sharing if you’re unable at this time but still intrigued.  It’ll be exciting to see this continue to develop!

Wolf Hollow–Ipswich, MA

“What do you think is in this bucket?” asked Z Soffron, Assistant Director of Wolf Hollow, as he emerged through the pack with a large orange pail.  “Raw meat?”

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He dumped it on the ground and we saw large red dripping chunks, which the wolves excitedly started lapping at.  Nope, it was homemade apple and watermelon “popsicles” (just fruit pieces frozen in water, an appropriate summer snack for your canines, as well).

While verbally reminding us that they are wild keystone predators, by serving what is basically a healthy version of the snowcones featured at the festival’s entrance, they made these creatures  instantly relatable as well.

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And that seems to be the point of Wolf Hollow’s Free Family Fun Fest.  Wolf Hollow is a non-profit wolf education center, and an affordable day trip any season ($7.50 adults, $5.00 children and seniors).  But once a year they open their gates for free so newcomers can check out what there is to learn, and old fans and new friends can enjoy the celebratory atmosphere.

It was very crowded–not overly so or in a bad way–but one could see how taking in these fascinating animals in their multi-acre sanctuary like atmosphere would take on a whole different tone on a quieter day, and I’m sure many first-time visitors (like us!) are now eager to have that experience as well.

But the Family Fun Festival is a good way to do it once a  year, too.  The usual hour long presentation was cut in half.  While it was well done and made me curious about what else there is to learn, the shorter time is great for the younger children.  As were the games and activities, including a coloring contest, puppet making, tye-dying, Pin the Nose on the Wolf, and more.  There were food and drink vendors, and if you saw the post I made on the Facebook feed, the free Ipswich Ale Brewery samples for the adults did not disappoint!  I recommend the summer ale!

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The rest of the year they have hour presentations on weekend days (going down to Sundays only during the thick of winter) at 1:30pm.  They are occasionally cancelled due to bad weather or special events so it is good to call first.  Groups of 20 or larger, like school field trips or camp groups, can schedule presentations by appointment on weekdays.

Wolf Hollow supports its wolves and their habitat through their modest admission fees, gift shop sales, private donations, special fundraisers, and their Adopt a Wolf program so if you go and enjoy it, support them!

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When I ask a small child what their favorite animal is, I find I often get one of several answers: dinosaurs (a lot to learn but sadly extinct), unicorns (imaginary, but many great creative myths) or wolves.  With the latter, you’re in luck.  Two local non-profits aim to feature them and educate us about them.  There are the Mexican Grey Wolves at Stone Zoo and the the British Colombian Timber Wolves at Wolf Hollow.  We’ve got easy access to these popular but occasionally misunderstood animals, so take advantage of it!

 

Danvers-Wenham SwampWalk

“Hey, mommy!  We’re bringing you to the swamp today!”

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Some mothers might hear those words Mother’s Day morning and wonder if the kids were exacting revenge for having been subjected to that celery-parsnip soup last week:  “You want green sludge! We’ll show you green sludge!” At the very least they might wonder if they are allowing one too many screenings of The Princess Bride.

Yeah, I essentially got to view a skunk cabbage bouquet for Mother's Day--but liked it!

Yeah, I essentially got to view a skunk cabbage bouquet for Mother’s Day–but liked it!

But no, my kids know they have a nature geek mommy and that I’d be genuinely pleased and excited to hear those words as part of their Mother’s Day plans for me.

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We’d been wanting to check out the Danvers-Wenham SwampWalk for a while, so we met up there with some friends, who had originally recommended it: Daryl, Emmaline and Gideon.  Sadly their mom Meghan had to miss it due to her obligations as an emergency services pediatrician.  I figured she could rescue the kids who were already sick, while we’d work on her kids’ base immunity by smearing them around in some dirt.

The swampwalk is a loop off the Danvers Rail Trail, and a great place to see some of our local wetland plants and animals.  If you do decide to tour it as part of your bike trip, you’ve got to park the bike at the entrance to the boardwalk section, but they’ve got bike racks set up there.  It’s also accessible by foot, just a short ways in from a parking area.  It’s dog-friendly (on leash, of course), so we brought Moxie and our friends’ dog Scout.

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At about a mile and a quarter, it is a relatively short doable walk for kids, and our 2-year-olds walked the whole thing without struggle. That said, much of it is an elevated boardwalk, so gauge whether you think your little one will be careful when it comes to staying on it when you are deciding between babywearing and toddling.  Because the water is shallow and we’re not in alligator country, risks are probably more  unintended mucky mudbath related than immediate danger related, but you might want to read up on some safety practices first anyway.

Okay, okay, so they did get rests and shoulder rides near the end…

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There are several beaver lodges along the walk, and the 4-year-olds thought they spotted one bobbing along but it was too far away to get a definitive sighting.

We saw probably about a dozen common brown water snakes, both on land and swimming, so if you’ve got ophidiophobia, you might want to sit this one out.  I love snakes, but would not want to go on a goose-ridden hike, so I understand.  They greatly interested the kids, and thankfully did not interest the dogs one bit.  They get quite large and thick; we saw ones at least three feet, and they can get to nearly twice that.  They are non-venemous and avoid you when crossing paths, but are quick to bite when handled, so be cautious that way.

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Check out the big guy in front of that large tuft. Sometimes we look for letter shapes in nature. It’s easy to spot Ys, but Ss can be a bit tougher. This friend helped us with that! Thanks!

It was a gorgeous sunny day, so we were a bit surprised we didn’t see any turtles out basking.  The pre-schoolers are both little chatterboxes, which is sometimes not conducive to spotting wildlife, but is thankfully very conducive to engaging them deeply and educationally on wildlife when we do see it, so it evens out.  But apparently turtles don’t have great hearing, especially when it comes to high pitched noises like 4-year-old voices, so it was probably just co-incidence.  We also didn’t see (or feel) excessive bugs, surprisingly, but we put on our repellant and sunscreen ahead of time just to be safe.

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We DID see a wide variety of birds, and you bird watchers among us will lament that we are not great at identifying them.  I’ll have to be sure to bring along my trusty Audubon Guide to New England next time.

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We were excited to get another great local outdoor destination off our bucket lists. Any requests for a future write-up?

 

 

Drink your Trees – making maple syrup

I won a maple syrup making kit at a charity auction. AND GOT VERY EXCITED. I had never made maple syrup before, so I was super glad the kit came with these three books (pics link to amazon.com).

The kit I got came with a metal spile, a hook, and an aluminum bucket and lid – like this kit on amazon.com :Maple Sugaring / Syrup Tapping Starter Kit with Metal Buckets. The only other thing you need is a drill to make a hole in the tree. 7/16th drill bits are a bit hard to find, but that’s what the old fashioned metal spiles need.


(Aside: there are lots of different spiles, taps, lines, and collection vessels available on Amazon.com. For two spiles we used sand buckets, for one a plastic drinking jug – just need something to catch the sap)

I used my cordless power drill to drill into the bark. You’re supposed to do it between a big root and the first big branch, because that’s where the sap will flow the strongest. I kinda just drilled in where it was convenient to stand. The hole is supposed to be 1-2 inches and angled slightly upwards. I think I got that more or less.

I cleaned to drill dust out of the hole and was pretty much amazed that sap started leaking out immediately. I guess I got there just at the right time. Stuck the hook over the spile and hammered the whole thing into the hole. Attached the bucket and lid, and then waited.

The sap flowed at different rates over the next few days. A couple of days it filled the whole 2 gallon bucket, on others 1/4 or 1/2 a gallon. The sap flow is super dependent on the air temperature. For the sap to flow well, it needs freezing temperatures at night, and about 40 deg F during the day. There seems to be some wiggle room. I just checked the bucket a couple of times a day (mostly because I was curious about what was going on).

Turning Sap into Syrup

So maple sap only has a slight sweet taste (that’s me drinking it straight from the pot). It looks and tastes like water otherwise. If you collect it in the morning and some of the sap has frozen, that is the BEST! The ice is mostly water, the sweet part gets concentrated in the part that hasn’t frozen.

Then I filtered all the sap through a cheese cloth into a giant pot and boiled it. A lot. It’s a huge reduction and quite steamy.  I’m trying to work out how to do it in the crockpot, so I don’t have the gas stove going so much.

The books say to reduce the sap until it looks like syrup – light brown-ish, slightly sticky. And if you want to get precise, you can use a thermometer and hygrometer. I have a candy thermometer so I used that to heat the syrup to about 215degF. I also took some of it higher to make maple candy – mixed success there, though all was delicious (just some was too soft, and some too hard).

I then poured the boiling hot syrup into clean mason jars and sealed them up. They seem sterile and nothing has grown in the first batch, which has been at room temperature for over a week.

Things I learned: sap is yummy, and there is a lot of it. Maple syrup is much yummier but more precious that platinum. You just need a way to make a hole in a tree and a way to catch the copious amounts of sap.

And here are some photos of me making maple syrup:

Halloween Candy Ideas! Or, what to do if you want to use it up before spring.

“We’ve got so much Halloween candy! I don’t know what to do with it! I just threw it out!”

I’ve seen this more times than I can count online in the past week or so. No! Don’t throw it out! Think creatively! I’m seeing this even on blogs or threads focusing on sustainability and the environment; avoid collecting it in the first place if you want, but trashing it perpetuates the issue. I can understand that you may find the trick-or-treating worth it for the fun and fellowship with your friends and then don’t want all the sweets in your house. I get that.  This is especially relevant in the Boston area where close-together easy walk neighborhoods equal large hauls. But let’s brainstorm some fun alternative ideas somewhere in between letting your kids binge til they pass out and the trash bin.

Candy corn

Donate:

Drop them off at a shelter or soup kitchen. Call first–they may have an overabundance this time a year. Yeah, yeah, I know it is not healthy nourishment, but everyone deserves a treat. This may be especially relevant if there are nut allergies in your family. In that case some of these other alternate ideas may not be workable, yet the bars made with whole nuts are ostensibly slightly healthier for others if you’re passing it on. Hard candies can be used for quitting smoking or blood sugar control. And, again, treats in moderation bring smiles to people’s faces. Some families fill baggies with candy and directly hand them out to anyone who looks like they could use a smile.

If you have friends and relatives overseas, set up a candy exchange.  We have access to some varieties they don’t and vice versa, so it is a good way to learn about and start a dialogue about other countries and cultures while also getting to try some new things.

Baking:

Click the link and check out these Butterfinger cookies.  Or these York Peppermint Patty Brownies.  A friend of mine just spoke of making a crushed candy cheesecake.  YUM! I know, no healthier than the original incarnation if you’re trying to place limits on your own family.  But the holiday season is coming up as we speak and  homemade baked goods will make better and more appropriate presents for the neighbors, teachers, and other loved ones than a spare Twizzler fun pack, right?  And whether you keep them for yourselves or not  (we don’t blame you if you do!) baking with kids is a great way to teach them about counting, measurement, percentages, chemistry, and more.

Crafts:

Speaking of the holiday season, it is gingerbread house time.  Save that candy and rather than chowing down use it to build a fabulous gingerbread house.   It doesn’t have to be a Christmas-y one if you don’t celebrate the holiday or want to try this another time of year.  There’s no reason you can’t adapt this to a year round activity.

Is a birthday coming up? Use your excess to fill a pinata!

Check out this neat article for candy wrapper craft ideas: http://earth911.com/news/2011/11/04/10-crazy-crafts-with-candy-wrappers/

My friends and I used to love to make gum wrapper necklaces in high school!  Let’s bring back that trend! You can also use Starburst wrappers. Some quick instructions here:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-starburst-or-bubble-gum-wrapper-ch/#step1

gumwrappernecklace

 

Science experiments:

We’re all about kid friendly science experiments here at Playground Hunt!  I think we’ve all microwaved a Peep (haven’t we?) or wondered why Pop Rocks do what they do, but this person has an entire blog about candy experiments and there seem to be a lot of Pinterest posts about them going around, too:

http://www.candyexperiments.com/

They are a great way to make productive, educational use out of your candy without having to worry about overdosing on sugar (although, again, some experiments will allow the candy to remain edible if you want the best of both worlds).

What other alternative ideas do you have?  Share them with us!

 

Figment Boston 2013

Do you want to mix your outside time up with some art and culture? Art museums are fantastic, but are they sometimes too hands-off and enclosed? Is, um, er, Burning Man too far away, pricey, and not quite kid-friendly enough?

Check out the Figment Project!  It’s a yearly FREE art festival on the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the whole point is for artists to come up with art projects and installations that are participatory and interactive.  Wonderful for kids, but many adults go on their own every year.  It’s affordable and kid-friendly, but the art is serious enough to satisfy adults.

Figment is in nine international cities around the world so far and we were actually introduced by our friend Ashley who lives just outside New York City.   New York hosts theirs on another great urban green space, Governor’s Island.  So check dates if you’ll be state hopping or globetrotting, but it is a regular annual event, so you can just watch for Figment Boston 2014.  Better yet, volunteer or, if you’re an artist, submit an idea.  (The link is actually for last year’s, but I’m assuming they’ll be reopening it there in late winter, as usual, so start brainstorming already!)

But, ironically, it had never worked out timing wise (what with summer so full of travel and barbecues and whatever else) to make it to the one in our very own city.  Well, this year it lined up perfectly, and we’re glad it did.  We had a great time.

Here’s Bridget enjoying the Hedgecone ring toss!  She made a ringer, and won a lollipop from inside one of the safety cones.

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Fiona’s vocabulary is still burgeoning.  But, charmingly, one of her favorite words is love.  She and Craig are a bit squirmy so it was hard to line ourselves up correctly in the thought bubble booth, but we thought this was appropriate:

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Bridget made me a crown we later hung from the Sustainabilitree (made completely from found objects) behind me:

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Some of the projects were edgy and some of them were sweet, and some, like the armpit-smelling booth called Bring a Pheromone and this farting dog sculpture called Amelia’s Angry Stomach involved enough bodily function humor to make grandma tut-tut.  But going with kids of a certain age and phase?  There’s a market for that!

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Bridget’s favorite was Lend Me a Sound.  We don’t have any photos of the booth because it was basically just a woman sitting at a computer, but she’d take sound samples from passers-by and make songs out of them.  Bridget’s squeaky “hello!”, her duck noise (in honor of Fiona’s favorite animal) and her pretty trill went quite nicely with the other participant’s meows, yodels, and twangs.

Fiona’s favorite was String Theory.  Relatively simple in concept (unlike the theoretical physics string theory) it was basically just hundreds of yellow strings suspended from a frame in a 28′ wide circle, increasing in density and length near the middle.  It was indeed fun to run through (Imagine running through a hundred beaded door curtains from the 70s in a row!  And odd but accurate description.)  and it was quite gorgeous.  IMG_9132

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And finally, the girls hula hooping with the Boston Hoop Troop in front of the famous Os Gemeos mural in Dewey Square:

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We hope you enjoyed us sharing our day.   Our favorite part of Figment, which also has a Facebook page?  Just like Outside the Box, last week’s brand new and highly acclaimed new arts festival on the Common, Figment Boston is  incredibly creative community use of park space!  Inspired?  Come help us finish rebuilding Rounds Playground and park space in Stoneham August 24th.  See if we can pretty it up even more and attract some fun cultural events there.  See you there!

Sign up here!

http://www.slyreply.com/app/sheets/4jie8nj1h0gt/

Thank you!

Drumlin Farm – more

Last week’s visit to Drumlin Farm was a bit odd. We talked about opossums, which are a huge pest in New Zealand (where I’m from), but protected in Australia and here in the USA.
But this possum actually quite cute it didn’t scream at me like the last major experience I had with an opossum – which is a whole story in and of itself
This last event occurred in New Zealand on New Year’s Eve 1999. Josh and I had hiked into the Rock of Ages in Aspiring National Park in New Zealand. We had made an accidentally unusually spicy curry for dinner and had left the pot outside with the food. This you can actually normally do in New Zealand. You might get some opossums coming by to investigate, maybe they will try to take something, but nothing dangerous every happens. This time however the possums apparently really dislike the curry. They started screaming and hissing and smashing into the side of the tent.  And we were surprisingly scared by this. But maybe it was because we had watched the Blair Witch Project a few months earlier.  Suddenly what we thought was a funny, cheesy movie seemed quite plausible…

Anyway the opossum at Drum Farm just wanted to eat some grapes and go back to sleep.

We did look in on the chickens and the tiny piglets after a walk around the forest.  The pigs were still very cute and a little bit bigger.
And for the second week in a row, we scored some of the supremely free-range eggs from Drumlin Farm. Woot!

Nature Craft Books I’m reading

A quick list of children’s craft books I am into at the moment. Alex, who turned 4 in Dec, is definitely able get something out of these. Jen still makes blobs a lot – though she surprised me by daintily painting just the wings, eyes, and feather tufts on an owl mask the other day. I’m looking forward to spring – can ya tell?

     

Help Mass Audubon

today’s offering was sent in as a guest blog post from Hilary Koeller at the Mass Audubon Society (hkoeller@massaudubon.org)

In the dead of winter when kids may be visiting playgrounds less and
less, I would like to tell you about a fun event that can be done from
the warmth of your own home.

Mass Audubon has an event coming up that is perfect for families,
children, and nature enthusiasts of all ages – our free annual Focus
on Feeders Weekend coming up on Feb. 5 & 6.

In a nutshell (or a suet feeder) we ask Massachusetts residents to
fill out a simple form noting the number and diversity of species of
birds visiting a backyard feeder. All of those who submit reports will
be entered into a random drawing contest for free prizes. We’re also
encouraging people to submit their wildlife photos (can be any animal
species) and we will award prizes in several different categories.

It helps us to track trends in abundance and distribution patterns of
birds. We’ve run this fun event for 40 years now and over time have
collected quite an interesting database of information. This event is
particularly great for getting children excited about identifying
birds and participating in the scientific process.

For more information or to download a reporting form, please visit:
www.massaudubon.org/focus

Thanks for helping us spread the word among your friends.