On a Mission to Appease the Candy Hound

Banana Soft Serve and Yogurt Pops

Growing up, I got dessert now and then, but candy was a rare commodity. All we had was a value pack of Trident in the kitchen cupboard, tucked between the mixing bowls and the vitamins. I had to hoard my Halloween stash and divvy it out slowly, making it last until Easter, which was the only other time of year that candy was prevalent.

Now I’ve got two kids of my own. For a while, both seemed equipped with the same level of restraint–despite the fact that I don’t mind having a little candy around the house–but once the oldest hit puberty, she went nuts. She’s become a maniacal candy hound, the likes of which I haven’t seen since The Great Cornholio. I don’t even know where she gets most of it. Now I find wrappers stuffed in the car door, on the bookshelf, in her pockets, bags, and between the cushions of the couch. “Why do you put the gummy bears in the cupboard where I can find them?” she asked one day, when I walked in and found her holding an empty bag.

It was time to find a way to satisfy her cravings for sweets without her sneaking around, binging on corn syrup and food dye.

Here’s what I have so far: two unbelievably easy, tasty, and reasonably healthy sweet snacks.

They’re too simple to call recipes.

First up:

Banana Soft Serve

What you need:

soft serve materials

Yep. That’s it. No kiwi? No problem. It’s also amazing without it.

What to do:

  1. Peel and slice the banana.

soft serve chop

2. Pop the sliced banana into the freezer for a few hours–or a few days, if you forget.

soft serve storage

3. When the bananas are frozen, cut the ends off the kiwi, and slice it in half the long way. Then, carefully scoop the fruit from the peel with a spoon.

soft serve peels

4. Throw the kiwi and frozen bananas into a food processor or some sort. Blend the fruit for what feels like EONS, until it is completely smooth, like soft serve. If your contraption has a hard time with the bananas, you can add a tablespoon or two of milk, juice, or water. With a Cuisinart, I didn’t need to do so, but the Magic Bullet had a tough time.

Please do NOT tell my kid that I borrowed her Magic Bullet without permission.

Please do NOT tell my kid that I borrowed her Magic Bullet without permission. I may never be forgiven.

5. Voilá. Sooooooo tasty. Even Miss Twelve likes it, despite the fact that she hates bananas. I swear. In fact, she likes it best without the kiwi.

soft serve!

Next up: Yogurt Pops

What you need:

popsicle materials

Yogurt and popsicle molds. I’m showing the Yo-Baby sized yogurt because a) it’s delicious, and b) one container fits well in each popsicle. But you might want to be more environmentally conscious and buy in bulk. We have tried blueberry, vanilla, mango, peach, and strawberry, and they are all delicious.

What to do:

  1. Pour the yogurt into the molds. Duh.

popsicle air bubbles

2.  This leaves all kinds of air pockets. The best way to get them out is to tap the molds gently on the counter until they go away. Do NOT tap vigorously. I made that mistake, so you don’t have to.

popsicle done

3. Put on the covers, and freeze for several hours.

4. Enjoy! Miss Ten and I love eating these for breakfast.

Got some suggestions to add to our repertoire? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

Book Review: Fish in a Tree

posted by Beret.

Reading level:  4-6 grade. The protagonist is in sixth grade, however, and she wouldn’t have been able to read it. In fact, that’s the point. This book is for anyone who has ever struggled in school or felt like they didn’t fit in.

One rainy day last July, I wandered into a bookshop and accidentally left with a stack of five new hardcovers. Just what I needed for my suitcase.

The clerk was lovely. She agreed enthusiastically with all of my opinions–which is terribly charming–and I bought Fish in a Tree based on her recommendation and its adorable cover. So much for judging books by their contents…although, I finished it last night, and that’s what I’m set to do now.

I loved it. Here’s why… Continue reading

Glowing Bubbles and the Great Black Light Smartphone Hack

_MG_3662

posted by Beret

A few weeks ago, I was on a plane watching an endless parade of Buzzfeed clips. My  hour of debauchery was made possible by Virgin Airlines, who gave my kids an entertainment IV, and gave me an adult beverage and my own remote. That doesn’t happen often at home.

In between raw eggs dancing on a speaker and men trying to walk in high heels, I learned about glow in the dark bubbles.

As some of you may have noticed, I like things that glow. Last fall’s obsession was glow-in-the-dark pumpkin bowling. Very festive.

But this time I was dubious. Glow in the dark bubbles sounded great, but the Buzzfeed hipsters made them using highlighters–which don’t glow in the dark. This wasn’t going to work without a black light. LobeStir to the rescue!     Continue reading

Misfit Lit: Counting by 7s

posted by Beret.

Age Range: Grades 5-8.

I’ve always had a soft spot for what I call “misfit lit.” Into this category I throw a few of the best books for young people I’ve read in the recent past: Loser, by Jerry Spinneli; Wonder, by R.J. Palacio; and A Mango-Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass. A major appeal of these books is that everyone feels like an alien at some point in their lives–often and particularly in middle school. Delving into the brain of an outsider and seeing how they experience and cope with difference can be both comforting and empowering. It could also encourage young people to look for what they might have in common with others, no matter how different they appear to be.

Counting by 7s is no exception. What is unique is that we spend a good deal of the book inside the head of Willow Chance–a girl with incredible intellectual gifts and a penchant for botany, medical texts, and the number seven. The author, Holly Goldberg Sloan, does not water down Willow’s vocabulary or personality in any way to make her character easier to swallow. In fact, it isn’t important for the reader to understand everything the main protagonist says or does throughout the novel in order to grasp her emotional turmoil and her desperate need to cope and connect. Continue reading

5th of July Fudgsicles

posted by Beret

On July 4th, it was ridiculously cold and foggy where I live. Too cold and foggy to see fireworks, or even to muster enthusiasm to watch the fog change colors. Instead, we went home and made hot chocolate.

July 5th dawned sunny and warm, and I found myself pouring the extra hot cocoa into a popsicle mold that had been sitting in the dish rack. Honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with the leftovers, because who wants hot cocoa on a warm day? A few hours in the freezer and voilà: I had accidentally made fudgsicles! Simple and tasty. In fact, waaaaay better than store-bought ones.

Here’s what you need: ten minutes and… Continue reading

Talking to Your Kids About Hate

posted by Gina

While today brought us a bright, shining, rainbow beacon of hope, we’ve been having a tough go of it. The world is proving a brutal place. How do we talk to our children about hatred? About violence? About racism? How do we answer their questions and how do we raise them to be a part of the solution?

I don’t know the answer. I wonder daily how to talk to my students. I’ve spent some time recently looking for advice and for resources, and thought I’d take this opportunity to share them with you.

Continue reading

Ridiculously Simple Single-Sheet-of-Paper Books

opening

posted by Beret

Here’s a little book I loved to make with my students. We used them for quick book reports and biographies, for poems, and as tiny sketchbooks or journals. They were perfect for outdoor writing, for science class, and field trips. They’re small, portable, easy, and cheap.   Continue reading

Early Onset Activism

posted by Gina

Let’s make this month a trifecta of book posts, shall we?

We’re approaching May 1st, and I was remembering the day of protests back in 2006, when I was teaching in San Francisco. My high school students, many first generation, took the protests incredibly seriously, and I remember being impressed at how many of them took the day to do thoughtful work, and how few looked upon the boycott as an excuse to just miss school.

I was lucky enough to be at a school that encouraged discussion with and support of our students, so we spent a lot of time talking that week – in advisory, in class, in the hall. We don’t often give our young people enough credit for their thoughts and ideas, particularly as they think upon the state of the world and the way in which they can make their voices heard.

I stumbled across this post recently. You know how I love lists of book recommendations – well, this one seems timely.

a-is-for-activist

Continue reading

Bookmaking: Theater Books

cover

posted by Beret.

A few weeks ago, I cleaned out a closet and discovered the instructions for making theater books. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked unsuccessfully for that sheet of paper over the years, but many. 

I promptly re-lost the paper.

Today–miraculously!–I’m holding it again in my grubby fist, so I will post these instructions posthaste in hopes that, in the future, I might relocate them at will. Hopefully, you will also be inspired to try this at school or at home with a child/glass of wine/tolerant spouse.

 What you need:

materials

  • A piece of 8 1/2 x 11″ paper.
  • A pair of scissors.

Think you can handle that? Continue reading