Monday, December 13, 2010

Allergy Free Holiday Treats

Kit is sensitive to gluten, eggs, cow's milk and citrus fruit.  We limit these foods as much as possible and coming up with holiday goodies that she can enjoy can be a struggle.  I have some friends who are in a pinch right now, looking for treats their kids can share with their allergic classmates, so I thought I'd post a favorite allergy safe recipe.

This recipe for Banana Crunch Muffins comes from the book "Allergy Proof Recipes for Kids" by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Marie Rominger.  It's a really great cookbook with healthy recipes that my kids have loved.  I recommend every parent grab a copy, because you never know when you're going to have to come up with something to feed a food-sensitive friend.

Banana Crunch Muffins
from "Allergy Proof Recipes for Kids"

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons hiney
2 tablespoons flax meal
2 tablespoons water
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Parenting Geekly note: make sure your vanilla is gluten free!)
1/2 cup white or brown rice flour or sorghum flour
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups allergy safe granola or cereal
1 cup allergy safe trail mix, any flavor

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.) In a mixer cream together the first 7 ingredients (through vanilla).  Mix in flours and cinnamon until smooth.  If desired place granols in a plastic bag and gently crush with rolling pin into bite-sized pieces.  Stir granola and trail mix into batter.  Spoon batter into a greased or paper-lined cake or mini muffin pan and bake as follows:

Mini Muffins: 20 minutes
Regular Muffins: 30 minutes
3.) Cool and cut into small bars or remove from muffin pan.

Parenting Geekly's modifications:  I used King Arthur Gluten-Free All Purpose flour in place of all the flours.  I added a half cup of allergy safe chocolate chips and I didn't have any trail mix, so I used all granola, which I crushed pretty fine.  They were a big hit a Kitty's school!
 ---
And by request, here is their version of sugar cookie you can cut with cookie cutters and decorate.

1/ 2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Remember, make sure it's gluten free!)
1/2 vegetable shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups white rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.) In a mixer cream together applesauce, sugar, vanilla, shortening, and salt.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix at low speed, increasing to medium speed until batter is smooth.
3.) Pinch off 1 to 2 teaspoons of dough and roll into balls.  Place on a baking sheet and flatten slightly.  Or to make decorated cookie shapes with cookie cutters, divide dough into fourths.  Place one section of dough between two pieces of non-stick parchment paper.  With rolling pin, roll dough into a flat 1/2 inch disk.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and then with a spatula gently remove the cookie shapes to a greased baking sheet.  Collect scrap dough and repeat process.
4.) Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are darker around the edges and firm in the centers.  Watch the cookies to make sure they don't get too golden.  Remove form baking sheet with a flat spatula and place on a flat surface to cool.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Star Wars Paper Snowflakes!

My awesome friend Iris shared this project with me, and now I'm going to share it with you!  Nate and I will be attempting this at some point tonight or tomorrow. These Bobba Fett/Storm Trooper and Darth Vader  snowflakes would be right at home in any nerdy family's winter decorations! I think we are going to hang ours on the garland swag over our fireplace.  They would also make a great tag on the gift of a Star Wars fan.

Click here to get the instructions, templates and story about their creation.

If you're not a Star Wars fan here are some instructions for traditional snowflakes.

If you found this post from Pintrest (hi, Pintrest users!) you may be interested in following Parenting Geekly on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday, December 10, 2010

T is for Tree!

The Alphabet Tree in all its pre-lit glory
Recently Kitty asked me to teach her to read. I figured it would help if she knew the alphabet - logical place to start, right? So, I went out and bought a bunch of workbooks, flash cards and beginner books and we got to work. She's totally into it, and can now recite her ABC's and identify many of the letters.  (As a note, the most effective tool was the one I was most reluctant to shell out for: Hooked on Phonics: Learn to Read Pre-K . All I could think of were "1-800-ABCDEFG" commercials from when I was a kid.  Anyway, it works.)

We had just sold our big seven and a half foot tree and replaced it with a much more modest four and a half foot model.  All the ornaments I had seemed over sized on our new little Charlie Brown tree, and so the kids and I were talking about what we should do.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when letter obsessed Kitty gleefully exclaimed "let's decorate it with the alphabet!"

O is for ornaments!
Aunt Karen and I made a trip to the craft store where we picked up some two inch wooden letters, some glossy acrylic paint in rainbow colors and paint on glitter (best stuff ever, the glitter is suspended in clear paint and therefore doesn't wind up all over your house).  Over the course of the next two weeks we painted 70 tiny letters until they were shiny, gave them several coats of glitter and added silver strings.  We cut jewel-toned cardstock into strips and looped a million of them together to make a paper garland.  We took our favorite small ornaments out of the closet, opting for silver snowflakes and red jingle bells.

Our paper crafting handiwork on display.
Next we had to find a new tree topper.  My beloved art-deco style silver angel was too heavy for the top of this dinky little tree. Nate suggested getting a bigger letter, but Super Dad pointed out that putting a giant "F" monogram on top of the tree might suggest "Tree Fail", or something worse.   We opted for an almost cartoonish looking white blown glass star with rounded edges.  It's completely perfect.  Last week we blasted the The Andy Williams Christmas Album (a tradition in our family since my dad was a little boy), made some hot cocoa (and some Jell-o shots!) and put it all together.

The jingle bells and silver snowflakes were the only "old" ornaments to make the cut.
I'm in love with this tree.  It's so cute, with it's preK-meets-Martha-Stewart vibe.  The time we spent planning and making the ornaments was so much fun, and each member of the family helped. I also love teaching Kit her letter of the day, and having her run to the tree to find it!  It's an extra way to get her excited about learning to read!




Friday, April 30, 2010

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day!

Go to http://www.freecomicbookday.com/ and find your local comic shop.  Each person can choose four comic books for FREE!  They usually have a pretty good selection of kids' titles and lots of other giveaways as well. 
If you've ever been interested in checking out your local comic shop, want to get back into comics or have no idea where to start, this is the day to check it out!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our Geeky Easter Wrap Up.

I hope you all had a fabulous Easter holiday. Easter always reminds me of the time when Nate, who was five and in Catholic school, was getting a lesson about Jesus' Resurrection. He raised his hand and in all seriousness asked the Nun "So Jesus was a Zombie?". I heard the story later from the nun herself who seemed pretty amused.

Anyway...

Nate's Easter basket was actually a Yoda Tin Box that he can use for lunch box.  He also got some Graham Crackers, Peeps and a Hershey bar so that he could try an experiment he's been wanting to do for weeks...

Peep S'mores.
Oh my goodness they were good!
Nate felt like I needed an Easter Basket of my own, and he bought the stuff with his own money (awwww).  I had given up soda and chocolate for Lent, so my Easter treats were fittingly a Hershey Bar and a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper.   Yes, that's Ralphie in Aunt Clara's Bunny Suit watching over the goodies.


Next we went to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  It was beautiful, but way less educational than I thought it would be.  Granted, we were only there for about an hour and spent most of that time taking pictures, but save for an "experimental garden" where they were growing new types of tulips, there wasn't much in the way of tulip info.  It was just a lot of  "Look at all the pretty flowers!"
After that we headed up to Super Grandma's and had a nice egg hunt (I supplied the super hero stickers and smencils!) and then we headed back home. 

We ran out of time this year and did not dye any eggs, which was sad.  It's one of my favorite projects to do with the kids and I wanted to do all natural dyes from vegetables and fruits this year, but it just didn't work out.

How was your Easter?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

You'll all soon learn that one of my Geeky obsessions is The Muppets (especially the Sesame Muppets).  I've been so happy to see Muppet Studios cranking out video parodies lately, and the one they put out this week does not disappoint.


Watch out little rabbits, That's Carl the Big Mean Bunny singing to you!


Meet GeekBaby!

Our new addition was designed by the fabulous Jessica Hunggar who runs Design Dream Custom Logo,Branding, and Photo Cards on Etsy.  What do you think?

I think he needs a name.  Kitty wants to call him Sun Sun, but I vetoed that option.  I need something better than whatever a three year old can come up with off the top of her head.  So, I think we'll have a "name the mascot" contest.  Details will be coming soon, so get your thinking caps on!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Favorite games for young gamers?

My kids love video games, as does Super Dad.  I have to admit though, that the games my kids play are not games made for kids, and we're pretty liberal about what we allow.  We have frank discussions about reality vs. the video game world and why behavior that is appropriate in an MMO is not necessarily appropriate in real life.  We feel confident in the way we've raised Nate to be confident, to understand right from wrong  and to look for non-violent solutions to his problems.  We don't feel like letting him play more mature games is going to suddenly change character traits we've been helping him cultivate since birth.  (I feel that I should clarify that we screen all games he plays before he plays and that there are many titles that - even with his whining and begging - he is not allowed to play.  So no GTA or Left 4 Dead for Nathan....

There are also many age appropriate games Nate loves.  Scribblenauts, Drawn to Life, and anything with Mario are big hits.  So when I was tasked with buying a video game for my nephew's upcoming tenth birthday I thought I'd have it under control.  It's turning out to be harder than I thought.

So, dear readers here's where you come in...what are your favorite video games for kids?  Nephew has a DS and a Wii, would need something that's no too reading/writing intensive (hence Scribblenauts being out of the running) and is relatively simple to play.  Suggestions?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How to make Bath Bombs!

In November of last year a couple of my girlfriends and I took a class at Otion Soap Bar in Bellingham, WA.  We had a very fun time learning how to make a variety of holiday gifts including salt scrubs and scented melt and pour soaps with cool effects.  Without a doubt our favorite project of the night was making bath bombs.  Trendy body care boutiques charged up to $6 for one bath bomb, and here we were learning that it takes about 50 cents worth of materials, about 5 minutes and some practice to make your own bath bomb! 

It's so easy, you can do it with the kids!  And it's a great lesson in chemistry!  Acid + Base + Bathtime = Science Fun!

The hardest part of the whole process is procuring the citric acid.  You can order it online at BrambleBerry - Otion's mail order company, find it in the bulk section of some groceries stores, or at soap making supply stores.   Here's the recipe:

  • One Part Citric Acid
  • Two Parts Baking Soda
  • A few drops of essential oil or fragarence oil of your choice
  • Witch Hazel in a spray bottle
  • Food Coloring or Powdered Colors from a soap making supply store
  • Molds (you can buy bath bomb molds, use soap making molds that don't have a lot of detail, I've had really good luck using a metal 1/2 cup measuring cup)
  1. Measure your baking soda into a bowl.  Add your oil and color and stir with a whisk until it's blended.
  2. Add the baking soda mix into the citric acid and mix very well with your hands until it's completely blended and lump free.
  3. Spray 6 spritzes of witch hazel over the mixture and blend.  You want it to be moist enough to hold together when it's squeezed, but not too wet.  It should look like this:
  4. If it's still too dry spray it with more witch hazel, 3 or 4 spritzes at a time.
  5. Pack it into the mold.  Put a little in, mash it in super well and then add some more.  Keep packing until the mold is full.  
  6. Let the mixture dry in the mold for a few minutes and then pop it out.
  7. Let it cure at room tempature for a few hours and then store it in a moisture proof container!
We made champagne scented bath bombs and I tried using a new 3D mold from Bramble Berry.  As you can see it didn't work out too well!  Nate got frustrated with getting the halves to stick together so we gave up and made "domes". 

Anne-Marie, who owns BrambleBerry and Otion has some great tips and recipes on her site The Soap Queen!

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Things are starting to get kinda official around here...

I spent this evening "optimizing" the blog.   We now have a fancy RSS subscription clicky icon official ParentingGeekly email!  You can now email yours truly at: sharon@ParentingGeekly.com

KlawBerry: Good Girl. Bad World.We're also now part of the Amazon Associates program, a change that I hope will not be overtly noticeable. It just means that when we decide to reccomend a product (like when we told you all about KlawBerry: Good Girl. Bad World. earlier this week), we can provide a link that will take you directly to that product's page on Amazon.  If you buy it we make a wee pittance which will hopefully allow me to keep this site running without forking over too much more of my kids' lunch money.  We will continue to only recommend products we really like, so rest assured this doesn't really change anything, I'm just all about full disclosure!

So please, email me, subscribe to the blog's RSS feed, leave a comment and click the Amazon links!

Okay, enough of all that boring business talk!  To make it up to you tomorrow I am going to make a post about an ultra-cool science-y project that you can do with the kids and will be prefect for Easter...bath bombs!

Monday, March 29, 2010

April Fools' Day Pranks

April Fools' Day is on Thursday and I figured I'd gather up some of the better easy prank ideas I've seen in order to give you time to prepare.   In my experience kids really, really love silly good-natured pranks and will spend all day trying to prank you back.

A super easy "prank" that seems to go over well with kids of all ages is tinting the milk.  Either discreetly put a few drops in with cereal or in a drinking glass. If your milk comes in a carton you can tint the whole container before you pour it. Blue and green are unexpected and the kids are less likely to expect a flavor to go along with those colors.  Last year I put red in Kitty's milk which turned it pink and she cried when she realized the milk wasn't strawberry flavored.

Some other super easy April Fool's Day tricks you can play on the kids:

Take the ball out of a trackball mouse, or put a post-it note over the light on an optical mouse.

Freeze some water in a cereal bowl overnight leaving enough room on the top for a layer of cereal that will cover the ice. Immediately before serving  pour some cereal and a bit of milk over the ice and watch the kids try to dig in.  Might want to have a placemat on the table for this one!

If your child sets out his clothes for the next day before bed, replace his jeans with a pair that's a size or two smaller.  In the same vein you can shove a wad of tissue or a balled up sock into the toes of his shoes. 

Sneak in during the night and safety pin all of your child's underwear (or pants) together side by side.  When she goes to grab a pair in the morning a whole bunch will come out.

Make a meatloaf and press it into a pie plate,  Bake it in the pie plate and the top it with mashed potatoes you have tinted pink with red food coloring (or ketchup if you like that).  "Frost" the meat loaf with the pink potatoes and bring the whole "pie" over to the table!  "Dessert" for dinner!  Family Fun has a whole slide show of "faux-food" like this one!


Know of any other good pranks?  What was the best prank you've ever had played on you?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Meet KlawBerry!

She's Kitty's new BFF!

At Emerald City ComiCon a few weeks ago, I spent some time booth jockeying at the Arcane Comics and More table. This year, the booth was situated across from Steam Crow Press, a Phoenix. AZ based outfit that makes cute, monstery things for kids and grown-ups alike.  It was the best view we've ever had, as Steam Crow's booth was filled with a bunch of prints, books and pins that featured super-cute artwork that was put through the steampunk/goth filter.  I think almost everyone manning our booth picked up at least a little something from Steam Crow Press (including a print of this Miso Angry art that Arcane owner Scott bought.  They also have a Miso Hungry Print that I'm still regretting not budgeting better for!).

Which brings us to Klawberry...
I was walking by when I heard Dawna from Steam Crow telling someone that they had this children's book about a "Good girl in a bad world".  I looked over and saw the art work and knew immediately that Kitty would love it.  I've always said that my kids have a sort of creepy sensibility; neither Superdad nor I are especially "goth" so I'm not really sure where it comes from, but it's there and it's evidenced by Nate's love of Invader Zim and sad music and Kitty's penchant for toddler sized combat boots.  I knew she'd be fond of darkly cute Klawberry so I picked up the book.
About KlawBerry (From KlawBerry.com):
KlawBerry is a little monster girl, with little black claws, big horns, and a single green eye. She’s cute, and she’s also a spirit of goodness. “KlawBerry” is also the name of a modern folktale by me (Daniel M. Davis), in the form of a book.

About KlawBerryKlawBerry (the book) is a modern folktale. The story is inspired by all kinds of ancient mythology, Grimm Brothers fairytales, and folk stories from Africa, Europe, and India, all mashed together like a spicy red curry. It’s about a monster girl who finds strength and power in herself, as she makes a odd journey. Grrlpower, literally.

I think we read that book about fifteen times that night.  She cried when KlawBerry had her eye stolen, cheered when she decided to go find it, and cried again when KlawBerry made a sacrifice to make the world a better place.  It's kind of heady stuff, and may be a little much for the average toddler, but Kitty loved it as I'm sure many older kids would as well.  I've delegated the nightly reading to Nate,and he seems to enjoy it quite a bit himself.

The next day it was the kids' turn to head over to ComiCon.  The moment that Kitty spotted the Steam Crow booth, her little eyes immediately found the KlawBerry plushie, and we had to bring her home.  The doll istelf is adorable and comes with a pin/button eye and a "passport" from the monster world into our own.  It has earned a place of honor among all of Kit's baby dolls, Disney Princesses and Barbies.  The picture above was taken when she had norovirus this week.  All she wanted was a bath and her KlawBerry.  I think that was the first time I had seen her smile in three days!

I encourage you to go check out the cool stuff they are doing over at Steam Crow Press, including their rad web comic Monster Commute and, of course, KlawBerry.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Back from the edge of death

It is soooo like me to start a shiny new blog and then get sidelined with one of the worst illnesses I've had in awhile.

I found this note from Nate's school in my inbox this morning:
There have been increased reports of "norovirus like illness" in King County.
Norovirus is the name of a group of viruses that is a common cause of viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) outbreaks. Although people who have norovirus infection may feel very sick for several days, the illness is seldom serious.  
Symptoms include:
                Nausea/vomiting/watery diarrhea
                Stomach cramps
                Fever/chills, headache, muscle aches
It is very contagious, spread by person to person contact.
Prevention includes:
                -HANDWASHING before eating, after using the toilet, before preparing food.
                -Clean and disinfect surfaces that have been contaminated with vomit or stool.
Thanks for that; I've been throwing up for three days.

In honor of "Norovirus like illness" that is now ransacking King County here is very first Parenting Geekly product reccomendation:

Bath and Body Works PocketBac Deep Cleansing Hand Sanitizer 
Look, I understand why hand sanitizer is bad.  If it's over used it can create resistant super-bacteria that's bound to kill us all.  I also understand that plain ol' soap and water is perfectly capable of killing most bacteria on our hands.  In a perfect world I would have access to a sink and soap whenever my progeny decided to wipe their boogers on my hands,and the park would offer hand washing stations so that when my kids were done playing on the swing set - which your precious little snowflake just finished slobbering all over- we could wash up.  Being a parent we find ourselves covered in ick at the most inopportune times, that's when I love my PocketBac.  They are tiny.  I keep them in my purse, in my car, in my diaper bag and in my stroller.  They come in about a bazillion fragrances (and unscented if you're no fun), and they are super cheap (on sale online and in stores now for 5 for $5- Tip: They are all $1 after 5, so don't let the sales people upsell you if only want 6).  They also sell a cool little rubber cover for them with a loop for attaching to a stroller, backpack or belt loop.

Buy them here.








Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ECC wrap up Preview

That's Nathan, me and Scott Stafford (owner of Arcane Comics and More in Seattle) getting ready to play Rockband with Wil Wheaton at Emerald City Comicon this this past weekend.

Greetings True Believers!

Welcome to Parenting Geekly!  We hope to be your source of all family-friendly nerdiness going forward.  In order for that to be possible we need your help!  Know of a cool place, product or event?  Please tell us about it!  We'd also love your feedback on what type of products you'd like to see reviewed and any other information you'd love to see on these pages!  It's pretty empty here right now, but with your help we will have all kinds of information for you and your geeky family soon enough!

Coming up this week: A wrap up of Emerald City Comicon!

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