Sunday, March 27, 2011

Garlic Roasted Chicken

"Why is Mommy taking pictures of her chicken?" Evelyn asked Troy tonight. The answer is quite simple - I want to post a recipe on the blog. This is the easiest roasted chicken to make, and it is sublimely delicious. When Evelyn sees rosemary, a lemon and a chicken in the fridge, she goes bonkers because one of her favorite meals is on the menu.

3+ tablespoons fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 whole chicken (I used a 5 1/2-pounder tonight)
1 lemon, cut into eighths
1 tablespoon olive oil
40 cloves garlic, peeled
You also need one of my favorite meal-making casserole dishes, a deep covered baker. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine paprika, salt and black pepper in small bowl; set aside. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken cavity. Rinse chicken with cold water. Place cut-up lemon and half the rosemary inside cavity of chicken. Tuck wing tips under back of chicken. Place chicken breast-side up into baker.

Brush outside of chicken with olive oil; coat completely with seasoning mixture. Place remaining rosemary on top of chicken. Arrange garlic around chicken. Bake, covered, 60 minutes. Carefully remove lid and continue raosting 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees in thickest part of thigh and juices run clear. Remove chicken from baker; let stand 10 minutes before carving.

Ta-da! Evelyn's favorite meal is done!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Circus 2011

Julia and Evelyn have been counting down 'til the circus, and today was the day! We headed to the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. this afternoon to see... We got there early enough to enjoy the Pre-Show. This is a chance to go down on the circus floor and meet some of the entertainers. Evelyn and Julia really enjoyed sitting on a motorcycle. This is one of the seven motorcycles that zips around inside a globe, and a couple of the riders are standing behind it.

We had bought programs for each of the girls, and the circus performers autographed their pictures in the books. They got signatures from aerial artists (pictured below), tight-rope walkers, motorcyclists and clowns.
We girls were posing for a picture on some mats in front of the circus logo when a clown swiftly sat down next to Evelyn. Evelyn was very excited about the clown sneaking into our picture, but Julia didn't know what to think. (At least she didn't cry.)
Julia was a little overwhelmed by all the circus excitement in the first half of the show - after all, this was her first time seeing the circus. By the second half, though, you could tell she was really enjoying herself. She yelled along with the crowd, pointed out various animals and clowns, laughed and generally had a good time. Oh, and that clown in the picture above? Julia now claims that he was her favorite.

Friday, March 25, 2011

First Grade Folktale Wax Museum

This morning the much-anticipated Folktale Wax Museum was on display. All 115 first-graders memorized their speeches and came dressed as their characters. The museum was in the cafeteria, where each student stood on a black circle. A small red button was in front of each student, with directions to "Press Here." When the button was pushed, the students recited their speeches. Evelyn's speech went as follows: Hello. My name is the Little Red Hen. I am from the folktale "Sly Fox and the Little Red Hen." I am clever because I tricked the Fox. He wanted to eat me! I put stones in the bag so he would think I was in there. The lesson in my story is being clever can help you solve big problems. To learn more about me you can read "Sly Fox and the Little Red Hen."

The cafeteria was packed with museum visitors, so it was impossible to get a picture of only the first-grade students/characters. However, I did get a shot of the row that Evelyn was in...look for her red hat with a yellow crest. She did a great job reciting her speech over and over again, and it sounds like she had fun, too!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Little Red Hen Costume

The first-grade team at Evelyn's school is putting on a folktale wax museum tomorrow. Each student has been assigned a folktale character, as well as a short script that needs to be memorized. The students need to be dressed in a costume that fits their role, and they were encouraged to wear creative (i.e., homemade) costumes.

After asking a dear friend for suggestions, I had an idea of how Evelyn could be transformed into the Little Red Hen. Here's what I started with:
- 81 feet of red crepe paper streamer paper ($1.00)
- red T-shirt ($3.00)
- red baseball hat
- yellow piece of construction paper
I cut the crepe paper streamers into 32 strips, each strip just a little bit longer than the length of the T-shirt. (Yes, my seamstress-in-training, Julia, is off to the side in this picture.)

Then I hand-stitched the streamers onto the shirt. I sewed eight streamers onto each sleeve (four hanging in front and four hanging in back), and I also sewed eight streamers onto each shoulder (again, four in front and four in back).
I cut out a comb/crest for the hen's head and taped it to the hat. I also taped the word "Clever" to the front of the hat (covering up the "N"). A major focus in first grade right now is understanding character traits, and in her speech, Evelyn talks about how the Little Red Hen is clever when she tricks the fox.
Voila! For a mere $4.00, Evelyn is transformed into the Little Red Hen!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Good Friend

Julia was such a good friend this morning at the Little Gym. When it was time to play a throwing game, the teacher brought out four balls - a different color ball for each of the little friends in the class. Julia was the first one to get to the teacher. When asked which color she would like, Julia chose a blue one and said, "I will give this one to Sarah." Julia took the blue ball from the teacher and promptly ran over to give it to Sarah, another girl in the gymnastics class. I thought it was so sweet of Julia to think of a friend before herself.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nature in Our Own Backyard

Neighbors have told us about a hike through the woods by Great Seneca Creek, just a few blocks from our house. A couple of weeks ago, Evelyn and Troy went for a walk behind the community swimming pool. Troy and Evelyn found so many cool things that day, so when today's weather was sunny and 60 degrees, they wanted to take Julia and me for a hike.

I've mentioned before that we have seen beavers while walking to and from school. Here is evidence of the little critters:
Julia was our skunk cabbage spotter. She learned about this stinky plant a few weeks ago at a regional park nature program. (It really does smell like a skunk if you step on it.)

Here is an area of the creek that the beavers have dammed. Julia and Evelyn were having fun playing in the mud and seeing how close they could get to the water. Julia did step in the water and got a little scared, but she didn't get stuck or fall in.
Kids with sticks and mud - always a fun combination.
Julia couldn't believe the beavers did this to a tree. I couldn't believe this is practically in our backyard - Troy and I certainly didn't have beavers living in the neighborhoods where we grew up!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Julia's Busy Week

Julia had quite a social calendar this week:
Tuesday - Tiny Tots Art class
Wednesday - gymnastics at Little Gym
Thursday - St. Patrick's Day program at Brookside Gardens
Friday - puppet show at library & picnic at the park

Usually Julia only has two activities each week, but not this week! I can't pass up the opportunity to take her to toddler events. Plus the weather was simply gorgeous today, which is why we planned a picnic and play-time at a park following the library's puppet show.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day at Brookside Gardens

Julia and I went to the St. Patrick's Day program at Brookside Gardens this morning. We couldn't have asked for better weather - it was sunny and in the mid-50s. I've taken Evelyn to this event twice, when she was 3- and 4-years-old, and she really enjoyed it. I was optimistic that this year would be equally fun for Julia.

First, we went on a hike through the gardens, looking for items on our scavenger hunt checklist card - golden nuggets, a leprechaun, a rainbow, bubbles, the Blarney stone, a frog, green feathers, etc. Julia was all about finding the things on her card, which she held tightly in her hand throughout the hour-long hike.
Look! Golden nuggets!

After finding all twelve items on the scavenger hunt checklist, we headed inside to work on crafts and games. Julia and I worked together to make a festive headband (or, as Julia called it, a crown).
Once her headband was finished, Julia headed over to the play-dough table. She also played a shamrock toss-the-bean-bag game, and then she chose a coloring page to bring home. Brookside Gardens didn't disappoint - both Julia and I had a blast this morning!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Baltimore's Inner Harbor

After our trip to the train museum, we girls headed to the Inner Harbor to meet Kat and Ross for lunch. I think the best part of our afternoon visit was hanging out by the harbor, enjoying the sunny day.
Birds begged for food. (We had none.)

Julia and Ross danced a jig.
And the girls couldn't resist touching the water to see how cold it was.

B&O Railroad Museum

The B&O Railroad Museum had scheduled turntable demonstrations today, which gave us girls an excuse to head up to Baltimore. We got to the museum when it opened at 10:00 this morning, which gave us plenty of time to look around before the 11:30 demonstration.

This locomotive, the C&O Allegheny 1604, is one of the girls' favorites (housed in the repair shed of the museum). Even though Evelyn doesn't like the way the front looks, she does like the immense size of the train and the fact that you can get into the cab and "drive" it.
Here are both engineers, up in the cab of the Allegheny:

As we continued our walk through the repair shed, Evelyn and Julia coupled up to several locomotives. In this picture, Julia is asking Evelyn for help because her hand is stuck in the knuckle coupler (in Julia's little imagination).
Shortly before 11:30, we girls found a spot at the edge of the turntable and sat down to wait for the show to start. A pre-performance snack was in order for Julia . . .
There were two locomotives that got a ride on the turntable this morning: a replica of the Tom Thumb (not pictured) and a replica of the Lafayette. The girls love the Lafayette because it's an ornery little engine - the museum curators often talk about how it runs well whenever it wants to, not necessarily when they want it to. Here's the Lafayette taking a spin on the turntable:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Queen Julia

Julia has recently promoted herself to queen. When she dresses up like this, we are required to address her as Queen Julia. She also demands to have her picture taken every time she dons this attire.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chilly Kitty

Even though the really cold days of winter are behind us, Rosie still prefers to lay on top of the heating register. If you look closely, you can see a corner of the vent by her tail.

Online Flower Girl Dresses

There are a plethora of flower girl dresses online, and I think I have looked at well over a thousand dresses the past couple of days. One good thing about buying a dress online is the reasonable price - the dresses online cost about half as much as dresses in the store. One bad thing about shopping for a flower girl dress online (in addition to not being able to try it on) is the return policy - they only refund 75% of the cost of the dress, the other 25% goes toward a restocking fee.

So far I have found some cute dresses on Flower Girl Dress Shop and Sophias Style. These two dresses were on the second website, and I especially like the first one. Decisions, decisions!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wishful Thinking

I made a new recipe for dinner tonight - a layered Mexican casserole in the deep covered baker. Evelyn was having pizza provided at her evening drawing class, so it was just Julia, Troy and me at home for dinner. Julia took one look at the casserole and let us know she didn't want to eat it. I expected that. And with Evelyn gone, Troy and I decided to offer Julia an alternative: chicken nuggets. After asking Julia if she wanted chicken nuggets for supper, she replied, "No, the pizza guy will arrive shortly." Clearly, our little Sunshine was in the mood for pizza. Unfortunately for her, the pizza guy was not supplying her dinner tonight.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring Swimming Lessons

The girls' swimming lessons started today, and they are both off to a great start.
Julia is in the Aqua Tots class, which is for ages 18 months to 3 years. It is a basic water adjustment class, with the instructors and parents guiding the little ones through various movements that mimic swimming skills. The only thing Julia wouldn't do was lay on her tummy at the beginning of class. Everything else, she did willingly: climbed in and out of the pool on her own (in 8-inch deep water); floated and kicked on her tummy while holding onto a floatation device; floated and kicked on her back while resting her head on my shoulder and I held her back; jumped/fell into the water from the edge of the pool while I caught her; and went down a short water slide (it looks like a yellow-and-orange clam in the picture above), by herself, with me catching her. It's hard to believe this is the same girl who, once upon a time, fussed time and again at her swimming lessons.

Evelyn's first day of swimming lessons were tricky to decipher. I couldn't see Evelyn's class from my vantage point, and Troy wasn't able to see her from the observation deck, either. We understand that her class treaded water in the 15-foot diving pool (wearing life jackets, thank goodness!) and they did some other swimming in the 3-foot pool. Now that Troy has an idea of which pools Evelyn's class swims in, he can keep an eye out for her next week.

Both girls had a great time this morning. We're very proud of all they did in the water, especially after a 6-month hiatus.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Flower Girl Shoes

When considering different kinds of flower girl shoes, I asked Julia and Evelyn if they wanted ballet-type shoes (to wear with white tights) or sandals (no tights). Both girls have an aversion to tights, so they let me know they preferred sandals.

Even though we don't have a flower girl dress, yet, Julia and Evelyn now have their flower girl shoes. We came across these at Nordstrom Rack this morning. Since the shoes/sandals were in the correct sizes, I bought them. The search for a dress continues . . .

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shopping for Flower Girl Dresses

This afternoon, we girls went window shopping for flower girl dresses. Both Julia and Evelyn will be in my cousin Brooke's wedding this May, and she is letting us choose their dresses. We went to David's Bridal, and the girls tried on three dresses. (None of us liked the first dress they tried on, so I'm not even posting it.)

Here's the second dress they tried on, and it was everyone's favorite. I like the bubble hem and the flower detail around the neckline.
This tiered dress was a big hit with Julia and Evelyn - it twirled fabulously. However, it is so poofy that it might get in the way throughout the day of the wedding. So, I will label this dress as our second favorite from today.

We will continue window shopping this weekend, so stay tuned for more pictures!