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Homemade Bubble soultion and Bubble Wands Yipee! Charlotte’s coming over and we’re going to have some bubble fun. I’ve got everything all set: homemade bubble solution that creates super-duper large bubbles, homemade bubble-making devices, and some gadgets from my kitchen with which to experiment. Who do you think is going to have more fun playing with bubbles, little Charlotte or me?

Basic Bubble Solution
Recipe from the Unbelievable Bubble Book by John Cassidy

INGREDIENTS
Bubble Solution
1 clean container/pail
1 cup Joy or Dawn dish detergent (no substitutions)
3 to 4 tablespoons glycerin (can be purchased at a drugstore)
10 cups clean, cold water (up to 50% more on dry days)

DIRECTIONS
1. Measure 10 cups of water into the pail.

2. Add 1 cup Joy or Dawn dish soap.

3. Add glycerin. In most atmospheres, it makes the bubbles more durable by reducing evaporation.

4. Stir, but not too much. You don’t want froth on the top because it tends to break the bubbles. If you get any, skim it off with your hand.

5. Gather or make any wand materials.

6. Pour bubble solution into non-breakable shallow containers such as pie pans, baking pans, dish pans, depending on the size of your bubble wands.

7. Select a wand, dip it in solution, and let excess solution drip off.

Possible Bubble Wands
Homemade Bubble Wands
1. Straws and String: thread a string through two straws and tie a knot at the ends. Move the knot until it is hidden inside one of the straws.

2. Water Bottle and Sock: cut the bottom of the bottle off. Place a sock over the cut edge and secure with a rubber band.

3. Assorted Cans: cut the tops and bottoms cut off. Make sure there are no sharp edges. If there are, you can either tape the edges with duct tape or file/sand them off.

3. 2-liter Soda Bottles: cut bottom cut off and tape bottom edge if there are any sharp jagged edges.

4. Wire Coat Hangers: bend them and form them into different shapes. I bent the handle up at a 90 degree angle to make it easier to dip.

5. Pipe Cleaners: bend them into different shapes. These are a little messy to use, since the fibers pickup a lot of excess solution.

6. Kitchen Colanders and Sieves

7. Strawberry Baskets

8. Hula Hoop: for BIG-time fun, fill a wading pool with an inch or two of solution and use a hula hoop as a wand. An alternative to this is to have the child carefully step into the pool in the middle of the hula hoop. Very slowly lift the hula hoop up from the solution, until the child is in the middle of the bubble.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Safety first: bubble activities should always be supervised. Bubble solution is slick and slippery. If any bubble solution gets on the floor, make sure that it does not become a slipping hazard.

2. Make sure that any solution is rinsed off of children’s hands before they touch their face, particularly their eyes.

3. Check for any sharp edges on any homemade wands or kitchen gadgets.

4. The sky’s the limit when it comes to bubble fun. Use your imagination.

Homemade Bubble soultion and Bubble Wands

Have fun!

August 28, 2015 Edition Playfully, I stick a hair curler in my granddaughter’s hair. Charlotte innocently strikes a quick girly-girl pose for me and then pulls the curler out of her hair and goes about her busy job of playing. Watching her play, I marvel at the curiosity that babies have and at the wonder and excitement that they exude over the simplest of things. This observation makes me ponder, “What happens to these qualities as we age?”

#1 – Just One Question
“If you could change one thing about your body what would it be?” Responses to that question were captured in this short video and they reveal how many of us become more self-conscious as we age. If you were asked this question, what would your answer be?

#2 – Never Too Old for Blocks
Life-Size Legos: EverBlocks Building System When my children were young, they would spend endless hours playing with Lego building blocks. Piles of these small blocks would be strewn all over the floor and my children would create imaginative worlds of their own. Now, thanks to Arnon Rosan, adults can still “play” with interlocking blocks. EverBlocks, life-size blocks similar to Legos, can be used to build furniture, room dividers, modular buildings, and even emergency shelters. These blocks prove that you are never too old to play with blocks and, like when you were a child, you are only limited by your imagination.

#3 – Too Close
Extreme Close-Ups No matter how often I vacuum my carpet, Charlotte always finds a tiny particle of debris on it. Babies have keen eyes, but not as keen as artist Pyanek’s camera lens. For his project Amazing Worlds Within Our World, he photographed everyday items extremely close-up. You’ll never look at a sponge the same way again.

#4 – Ukes of Great Btitain
Every night, before Charlotte’s parents pick her up, my husband plays the ukulele and we have a little sing-a-long with her. She laughs, dances, and “sings” to her favorite songs. There’s no doubt about it, the ukulele is a fun and happy-sounding instrument. Enjoy this humorous rendition of the Theme from Shaft, as performed by the talented Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

#5 – Respect the Child
“We not only need to have a deep respect for children; but also a deep respect for the child in everyone.”
C. JoyBell C.

Now go and spread joy!

Baked Croissant Cinnamon French Toast Croissants should never go to waste. Not ever. Not even when they are stale. Turning stale croissants into delicious French toast or bread pudding is the ultimate in food upcycling. In this recipe, chunks of croissants soak in an egg-milk-yogurt mixture and then are covered with a cinnamon streusel. After one bite of this moist French toast and its crunchy topping, you’ll find yourself buying croissants just so they can go stale.

Baked Croissant Cinnamon French Toast
Recipe adapted by Pinch of Yum from The Pioneer Woman

INGREDIENTS
Bread Pudding
3 large or 6 small stale croissants
3 eggs
¾ cup milk
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
¼ cup sugar
½ tablespoon vanilla extract

Streusel Topping
3 tablespoons flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

DIRECTIONS
1. Grease a small baking pan with butter. Tear the croissants into small pieces and place in the dish.

2. Whisk the eggs, milk, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight in the fridge (or for a few hours if you are short on time).

3. For the topping, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut the cold butter in with a food processor, a pastry cutter, or your fingers until the mixture resembles small crumbs.

4. An hour before serving, preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top of the croissant/egg mixture in the pan. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes depending on how soft/crispy you want it to be. Make sure the French toast is fully cooked before you remove it from the oven – usually the top looks done before the inside is really done.

5. Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup.

Serves approximately 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used 6 small croissants that I had on hand.

2. I also used lowfat milk and no-fat Greek yogurt with delicious results.

3. For some reason, the consistency of my streusel was a bit off, not as crumbly as I wanted. I added a touch more flour to the mixture to make it more crumbly.

4. French toast and bread pudding are very similar, so this recipe could be served as a dessert too.

Enjoy!

August 21, 2015 Always looking for ways to improve myself, I’m attending a workshop today. Check back next Tuesday for a new What About This? post. In the meantime, I leave you with this thought:

“The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful, but that it is also tragically short.”
Homaro Cantu

Now go and spread joy!

Peach-Oatmeal Cookies

Peach-Oatmeal Cookies Luscious sweet summer peaches won’t be around forever, so try to serve them in as many ways as possible. For me, that means peach cookies! To assuage my guilt for craving cookies, I decided to try this recipe; it contains rolled oats, two types of fruit, less fat, and less sugar than an average cookie recipe. One bite of these cookies and everything will be just “peachy.”

Peach-Oatmeal Cookies
Martha Stewart Living Magazine, July/August 1996

INGREDIENTS
3 large peaches, or 1¼ pounds frozen peaches, thawed and drained
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
6 T granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 T pure vanilla extract
1½ cups plus 1 T rolled oats
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sun-dried cherries, chopped

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Pit, peel, and dice two of the peaches. (If using frozen peaches, set aside 3/4 cup). Place diced peaches in a saucepan; add lemon juice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the peaches are broken down, about 20 minutes. Using a whisk, mash peaches; let cool.

3. Meanwhile, dice the remaining peach or reserved frozen peaches and set aside.

4. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on high until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in mashed peaches. Add diced peaches; stir in by hand.

5. In a bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cherries. Stir into the peach mixture by hand until well combined.

6. Drop a heaping tablespoonful onto prepared sheet; dampen finger (with water) and gently flatten. Repeat, spacing 2 inches apart.

7. Bake until very golden brown and crisp around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cookies on wire racks.

Makes about 3 dozen

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Most recipes call for 1 tsp of vanilla extract, so make note that the 1 T of vanilla extract specified is not a typo.

2. Because of the peach juice, this is not a thick batter.

3. One recipe yielded 42 medium-sized cookies for me.

4. The introduction to the recipe states,”If you want these cookies crisp, leave them overnight uncovered; for moist cookies, wrap them well once they’ve cooled.”

Enjoy!

August 14, 2015 Edition Resembling a drunk, my granddaughter Charlotte teeters back and forth on unsteady legs as she walks towards me. Deciding to carry the largest and heaviest toy in the room, she makes frequent balance adjustments as she plows her way through a minefield of toys on the floor. I smile at the scrunched-up-nose grin on her face; that happy grin appears during moments when she is most proud of herself. “Slow down little one,” I say to her, not wanting her to fall, but, in a grander sense, not wanting her to grow up too fast. Although she’s not quite a year old, it’s hard for me to remember what life was like before this precious bundle of joy blessed it.

#1 – Stop Complaining!
How to Complain Less Some days I watch Charlotte for 15 hours straight, but I’m not complaining. I consider myself lucky that I’m physically able to do it and that my son and daughter-in-law trust me enough to care for their child. The act of complaining zaps the joy out of life, so stop complaining or at least do it less frequently. Read What It’s Like To Go Without Complaining For a Month and learn a few tips on how to complain less.

#2 – Coloring Stress Away
25 Free Coloring Pages Back in the “good ol’ days” before the invention of televisions, computers, and cell phones, kids would entertain themselves by coloring in their favorite coloring books. Remember the happy feeling you had after buying a new box of crayons and a new coloring book? Regain that happy and carefree feeling of being lost in art as you color away your day’s stress. Check out The Country Chic Cottage’s list of free coloring pages. Coloring is not just for kids!

#3 – Salads in a Jar
20 Recipes for Salads in a Jar Vacations are over. It’s back to school or back to work we go. And that usually means back to routines. Break the monotony of bag lunches by taking out unappetizing sandwiches and substituting tantalizing salads. Better yet, make the salads ahead of time in a jar and the next morning grab a jar and go. These 20 Mason Jar Salads to Pack for Lunch will give you a few recipe ideas for next week.

#4 – Admiring Glass
#0 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today One would think that glass is a cold and lifeless medium, but not in the hands of these 30 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today. In their hands molten glass solidifies to become expressions of emotions and beauty. Ikuta Niyoko, one of the artists featured in the article, says this of her work, “My motifs are derived from feelings of gentleness and harshness, fear, limitless expansion experienced through contact with nature, images from music, ethnic conflict, the heart affected by joy and anger, and prayer.”

#5 – Be Surprised
“We get a limited number of milestones in life, but we never run out of opportunities to be surprised by joy.”
Connie Schultz

Now go and spread joy!

Tuesday's Thoughts (8/11/15)
Running into neighbors at a local restaurant last week, I mentioned that my husband and I were celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary. A young couple sitting at the next table overheard the conversation and said, “Congratulations! What’s the secret to being married for so long?” I jokingly wanted to say, “As you grow old together, you become blind and deaf.” Instead, I thought about the question and quickly replied, “Patience and compromise.” After I got home, I gave the matter more thought and concluded that there is no one secret to making a marriage last. It’s a hundred little things. Being married is work, hard work. And having been with my husband for 43 years, I can honestly say, it doesn’t get easier with time. Growing up and growing old together necessitate that you refocus and make adjustments along the way. I can’t speak for all couples, but the following elements and qualities helped us to have a long and happy marriage. Here is some additional advice for that young couple:

1. Patience and Balance
Yesterday, I received a Note from the Universe that read, “Maybe it’s not just about finding the perfect friend, partner, or tribe, but finding the perfection in those you’ve already found.” No one is perfect. Remember that the next time you feel exasperated with your partner. A little patience goes a long way. Together, my husband and I make a good team. Our personality traits compliment one another and we strive to balance our lives together, never letting any outside influence tip the scale.

2. The Four C’s: Communication, Consideration, Compromise, and Commitment
As a fiery Aries, I always keep the lines of communication open, whether my husband likes it or not. My general rule: do not build up emotional “walls” without “doors” to let someone in or without “windows” that allow conversation to flow. Be considerate of your partner’s feelings. Never make assumptions and try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Marriage is a partnership, not a corporation. There is always room for compromise. Commitment means more than just being in a relationship. It means you are committed to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work. You strive to work out problems and not retreat or escape from them. It means when the going gets tough, you get tougher and become each other’s stalwart supporter. It means you are committed to the well-being and happiness of your partner.

3. Respect and Trust
My parents, my siblings, and even my children got me by default. My husband is the only person who really chose me for me. I am eternally grateful that he chose me to love and that he respects me. I am mindful to respect his being and his rights as well. Trust must be earned. Once it’s broken, it’s extremely difficult to reestablish. Think twice before jeopardizing the gifts of your partner’s respect and trust.

4. Separate and Together
Yes, my husband is my soulmate, my partner in crime, my travel companion, my best friend, and the light of my life. That being said, do I need to spend every waking moment with him? No. Although we spend a lot of time together, we still need time apart to nourish our individuality. Allowing for individual growth makes us a happier couple.

5. Appreciation and Gratitude
We work hard at not taking each other for granted. Never a day goes by that we don’t express, in some form, our appreciation for one another. Life can change in the blink of an eye, so be grateful for that special person in your life.

6. Love
The giant umbrella of love encompasses much. Love cannot exist without joy and happiness. Sparked by passion and compassion, it grows when nurtured by commitment and patience. It thrives on acts of kindness, consideration, and compromise. Love endures when built on a foundation of trust and respect. To have love in a marriage is to have all these things.

What advice would you give to the young couple?

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