Saturday, May 9, 2015

Evelyn's Nature Party

This girl is ready for her nature party!  And we couldn't have asked for better weather - it was sunny and in the mid-70's today.  Perfect for an outdoor party.
 First on the party agenda was dissecting owl pellets.  Even Julia got in on the action, using her tweezers to pull all sorts of bones out of the fur.
 Evelyn had requested that I get the big pellets, and I fulfilled that request.  The girls spent close to an hour, pulling all sorts of critter bones out of their pellets.
 Next up was the scavenger hunt/hike through the forest.  Everyone looked at their booklets to know what they were looking for, and off we went.  The girls drew pictures of what they saw, and everyone found everything except...a turtle.  We did see a water snake, which is another type of reptile, so I told those guests to just change it.
 Once back at our house, the girls washed their hands (with the hose in the front yard), grabbed some pretzel sticks and popcorn for a snack and started making their popsicle stick bird feeders.  I dumped a pile of popsicle sticks (two different sizes) on each table, along with two bottles of glue per table, and off they went, creating their own bird feeder.  (Also included in the goodie bags was a Ziploc bag of bird seed.)
 Well before the party started, I set out a treasure hunt all around the yard - front and back.  I split the girls into two teams.  Each clue told the each team to go to a different place for the next clue.  The team's clues went in a different order, but they all ended at the same place.  The prize?  A small, potted mariGOLD.  (Credit goes to Julia for that - such a clever one!)
 And the grand finale to Evelyn's two-and-a-half-hour party was cake and ice cream.  Everyone had a blast, and the time flew by!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nature Party Prep

Evelyn's birthday party is tomorrow, which we have been planning for several weeks.  She decided on a nature theme for her party, with the highlights being a nature hike and dissecting owl pellets.  I wanted all of the party-goers to have a mission while hiking through the woods, so I made little scavenger hunt books.  Each little book has 12 things to look for (seeds, wildflower, flying insect, evidence of a beaver, etc.), and everyone's books is different.  I cut up a paper sack to make the covers, and I tied everything together with yarn.  I also found those cute "twig" pencils online for the girls to draw a picture when they found something.
 The scavenger hunt books were the most time-consuming thing to make, and they weren't that hard.  Everything else we just ordered or bought, and it was ready to go - journals for the goodie bags; owl-themed cups, plates and napkins; popsicle sticks and weather-proof glue to make bird feeders; owl pellets and bone-sorting guides (with tweezers!).  All of Evelyn's party items fit inside one box, making it easy to keep everything together before the big day.
 Going with the nature theme, and the fact that the girls would dissect owl pellets, Evelyn requested an owl cake for her party.  I found an owl cake pan online, in which I bake a vanilla cake (yes, another one!).  And now I just need to mix the colors and frost/decorate the cake.  Easy-peasy, and we're ready for tomorrow's party!

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Even though yesterday was Evelyn's birthday, it was such a busy weekday that we didn't have time to go out for a special dinner.  So we went out tonight for Evelyn's birthday - and she chose a hibachi grill.  It was everything she had hoped for - entertaining and yummy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Happy 11th Birthday, Evelyn!

Evelyn had a busy day today - Wednesdays are her busiest day of the week this year.  It all started with taking pictures in the front yard at 7:30 this morning, shortly before she was picked up for before-school band rehearsal.  We wanted to let the band carpool kids that it was Evelyn's special day, and balloons on the mailbox certainly conveyed the message.
 After a full day of school, Evelyn went to her two-hour ballet class.  So it wasn't until 8:00 p.m. that Evelyn was able to dig into her presents - and like in years past, American Girl doll accessories and Lego sets were the big-ticket items.
 Then it was time for cake!
 Yummy, colorful cake with 11 candles!
 Happy (busy) birthday, Evelyn!

First Grade Field Trip to Providence Children's Museum

I had the pleasure of chaperoning Julia's first-grade class on their field trip to the Providence Children's Museum (in Rhode Island).  The kids had two hours to explore the museum, and Julia's small group started in the water play area.
 Then they moved on to an area where they could experiment with lights and sounds.  But their favorite part was the colonial section, where they could dress up in "olden days" clothes and pretend they were pirates or settlers in the 1700's.  (Julia moved too much and too quickly for me to snap a picture of here in the colonial exhibit.)
 The last thing Julia's class did was learn about earthworms.  How thrilled was Julia to be able to play with her very own worm?  Uh, not very.
 This was as close as she got to her slimy companion.  But that's alright - she still learned new things and had a wonderful morning!

Rainbow Birthday Cake

Evelyn had one request for her birthday cake this year:  a vanilla cake.  Well, I can certainly do more than that . . . and after doing a bit of research online, I had a plan.  A rainbow cake plan.  I prepared a vanilla cake mix according to the package, except I only mixed the batter on medium speed for one minute.  I divided the batter into three separate bowls and added Wilton's food coloring gel to each bowl - red, yellow and blue.  (Stirring in the food coloring completed the mixing time needed for the cake batter.)
I layered and frosted the cake with regular, white buttercream frosting.  Then I made two cups of powdered sugar glaze, thinned with milk.  I used Wilton's food coloring gel to tint the glaze in six separate Ziploc bags.  Then I snipped the corner of the Ziploc bag and carefully drizzled the colored glaze down the sides of the cake.
 Evelyn had no idea that a colorful surprise awaited her under all the frosting - and she was thrilled with the result!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring Bird Update

Most of the ducks have deserted our yard, probably so the mamas can sit on their nests.  But we have seen this lonesome fellow hanging around in our backyard and the creek.  We call him "Daddy Goose" because we assume that the mama is sitting on her eggs.
 We have two nests in the front of our house.  First is the phoebe nest, tucked above a porch light.  We were upset to see that, in addition to the two phoebe eggs, there is also a cowbird egg.  Cowbirds are protected pests, so I guess we'll just let nature take its course - Google them to see why the girls are so upset about this intruder.
 On the other side of the house, a robin has made a nest in a bush, and she has been sitting on four eggs.  This bush is right outside our living room window, so we can all keep a good eye on the progression of this nest.