Five Pieces of Wisdom

I don’t know how much actual wisdom I’ve shared with my children, but I have realized that there are five things I tell them regularly, and that’s probably as close to passing on wisdom as I get!

  • “It’s nice to be nice.”–This is probably my most-repeated phrase, and I think it’s also the most useful. I hope I’ve taught my children to be kind to others, even when others aren’t kind to them. And I hope they never decide to finish the saying à la Frank Burns in M*A*S*H…”to the nice.”
  • “Ganache covers a multitude of sins.”–I came up with this saying once when a bundt cake I baked (probably our favorite Guinness cake) stuck to the pan, resulting in a less than attractive-looking cake. Luckily for me, the recipe includes a ganache that is poured over the top, and I realized that once I did that, you couldn’t tell that there had been any problem with the cake at all!
  • “Measure garlic with your heart.”–If ganache covering a multitude of sins is my number piece of baking wisdom, then this is my best cooking advice. A recipe can call for a certain amount of garlic, but in my experience, it’s almost never enough, and even if it is, your cloves may be a different size than used by the recipe’s author. This is one of those things where you just have to trust your instincts and measure from the heart.
  • “Lake Michigan is an inland sea.”–I am very protective of my favorite Great Lake, and I really hate when people act like it’s “just” a lake. When you look at its size and the way it behaves, it is hardly a simple lake, but actually a large inland sea, and should be respected as such.
  • “Look up.”–My final piece of advice is usually given regarding architecture, although it applies to lots of other things as well. There are so many amazing details, especially on historic buildings, that are higher than eye level, and if you don’t look up and really pay attention, you won’t ever notice them. Looking down or even straight ahead can cause you to miss out on some really great things, so take the time to look up and really see the world!

What wisdom do you share with others?

2022-23 School Year–Week Seven

Fun things first…on Monday, we went on a field trip to the St. Louis Zoo. Our top priorities were taking a look at some of the animals Chickadee has already learned about in science (mainly bears), and some she’s learning about next (the big cats). We were somewhat successful, although several exhibits we would have liked to visit were closed. We did see the polar bear, plus lions and leopards, which was good. And it was an absolutely beautiful day to be outside, which was even better!

This week was the week nobody was waiting for…Ladybug started working with imaginary numbers in algebra 2. She was less than thrilled. She finished Act IV of Romeo and Juliet and began Act V. In history, she read about Attila the Hun. She learned how to draw Lewis Structures in chemistry, and read about ionization energy. In writing, she worked on scripting internalization. We tried two new recipes from Recipes from the World of Tolkien: Whole-wheat molasses scones with molasses butter and Elvish white bread rolls:

In addition to those recipes, we also baked Romeo’s Sighs and Juliet’s Kisses cookies from our A Literary Tea Party cookbook…they were amazing! 

Chickadee worked on finding multiples and factors in math. She started learning about big cats in science…so far, we’ve discussed lions and tigers. In grammar, she learned how to identify and diagram direct and indirect objects. She read about the Yellow River Valley and Huang Di in history. We only have a few chapters left to read in Heidi! We watched a few episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe that were filmed in Switzerland to get a better idea of what her Alpine home might have looked like.

I hope the beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying sticks around, because we’re really enjoyed having the opportunity to do some of our schoolwork outside!

Tasty Tuesday–The Eleventh Disney Diner

For our penultimate Disney Dinner of the summer, I turned to Delicious Disney for all three recipes. We started with the seasonal old fashioned from the Enchanted Rose Lounge. Yes, an old fashioned is by nature an alcoholic drink. But what my children were most interested in was the combination of fall flavors like cranberry and rosemary, so I substituted apple cider for the alcohol, which paired well with the other flavors in the drink.

For the main course, I made honey spicy crispy chicken from Nine Dragons Restaurant, a fine dining establishment in the China area of Epcot’s World Showcase. I don’t usually deep fry chicken, but I made an exception, and I’m glad I did, because this was one of the best recipes we tried all summer!

For dessert, I made Amorette’s recipe for pumpkin crème brûlée topped with sable cookies. This was kind of a disaster, because I dropped mine on the floor, breaking the ramekin in the process. I’m told it was good, though, and it kept with the “fall flavors” theme of the meal.

Stay tuned for our final summer Disney Dinner!

2022-23 School Year–Week Six

We didn’t have any field trips this week, but we spent all day Monday watching coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral (some of us were up by 3:30 a.m.!) and a few more documentaries about her life. It was an emotional day!

On Tuesday, we returned to our regular schoolwork. Ladybug worked with fractional exponents in algebra 2. She started Act IV of Romeo and Juliet. She compared Bohr’s model of the atom to the quantum mechanical model of the atom in chemistry. In history, she read about the sack of Rome and the Visigoths. We read my least favorite part of The Fellowship of the Ring: “In the House of Tom Bombadil”…that guy makes Dr. Seuss sound sane! We made Lake-Town beef pot roast with horseradish dumplings from Recipes from the World of Tolkien for dinner one night, and it was really delicious!

Chickadee did more rounding to the tens, hundreds, and thousands place in math. We finished reading about suborder Caniformia in science, ending the chapter with minks, otters, skunks, and raccoons. In grammar, she learned about adverbs that tell “to what extent” and also reviewed the other parts of speech we’ve done up until this point. She’s currently memorizing the poem from elementary school that Ladybug remembers best. “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. In history we read about the Indus River Valley and Mohenjo-Daro. We have reached the part in Heidi where they move to Dörfli for the winter.

Unusually for us, the first days of fall have actually felt like fall, and it looks like that trend is going to stick around, so I’m planning a day where we get out of the house and enjoy the weather early next week!

Tasty Tuesday–The Tenth Disney Dinner

Our tenth Disney Dinner was all about taking a second chance on the rib recipe that didn’t turn out earlier in the summer, but before we get to that, a drink I put a lot of effort into coming up with, the Frozen Sunshine from Disney’s Beach Club Resort. The more Disney Dinners we had, the harder it was to find drink recipes that didn’t include alcohol, or that could at least have the alcohol substituted out. I went through pretty much all of the recipes in our cookbooks, so I turned to the internet for copycat recipes, which is where I found this Creamsicle in a cup!

I was still upset about the “Disney Disaster” we had previously, so I gave the hoisin chili sticky ribs from Delicious Disney based on Chef Morimoto’s recipe from his restaurant at Disney Springs, Morimoto Asia, another shot, substituting baby back ribs for spare ribs. They were perfect…definitely the best ribs I’ve ever made!

For dessert, we had Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets with lavender sugar. Can you have too many Mickey-shaped treats?!?

This was a fun meal, and I really enjoyed the redemption when making the ribs!

Tasty Tuesday–The Ninth Disney Dinner, Star Wars Edition

Our ninth Disney Dinner was A Big Deal, because I tried to recapture the magic of something we tried at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios…but first, something new and something a little scary, the Sarjenn Snowcap, a cola slushy topped with sweetened, condensed milk. I wasn’t really sure how it would taste, but in the end it was very similar to a cola float, and very good.

The star of the meal was Batuuan Ronto Wraps, a popular item at Hollywood Studios. We shared a Ronto Wrap our first day at the park, and Turkey liked it so much, he bought his own for dinner the second day we were there. The Galaxy’s Edge version has both sliced pork and a sausage, but we had ours with just the sausage, and it really wasn’t missing much.

For dessert, we had Cavaellin Spice Creams, which were pretty much gingerbread cookie whoopee pies filled with orange cream cheese frosting.

It was fun to really have a little bit of Disney at home!

2022-23 School Year–Week Two

I think we’re starting to feel comfortable with the new school year! Ladybug reviewed combining and simplifying fractions with variables. She finished both the first chapter in her chemistry text and the first act of Romeo and Juliet. In grammar, she worked on identifying gerund phrases. She read about the Jin in China and Chandragupta in India for history. At her request, I found a cookbook to go along with reading The Fellowship of the Ring, Recipes from the World of Tolkien. We made our first recipe from it this week, “Turin Turambar Tarragon Chicken,” and it was very good!

Chickadee reviewed simple equations and multiplication and division in math. She started learning about family Canidae in science. In history, she learned about ancient Egypt and Sumer, as well as hieroglyphics and cuneiform. We started reading my least favorite part of Heidi, when she goes to live in Frankfurt. She also got her very own library card this week!

I’m trying to make sure we get out of the house a little more this year…this week, we visited our local public library for the first time since before the pandemic started; next week, I’m hoping we might find time to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden and check out the new Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center!

Tasty Tuesday–The Seventh Disney (Breakfast for) Dinner

I planned our seventh Disney Dinner to coincide with Bastille Day, so I had an excuse to make S’mores French Toast Sandwiches (or “delicious hot schmoes”) as found in Hollywood Studio’s Toy Story Land. Since it was such a decadent meal, we didn’t have dessert, but who needs it when dinner looks like this?!?

For the drink, I used the recipe for Keshian Spiced Milk from the Star Wars Life Day Cookbook…it was very much like a horchata, and very tasty!

Normally I wouldn’t make something like this for dinner, but for a special occasion, it was fun, and it may even return to the table as a dessert in the future!

Tasty Tuesday–The Sixth Disney Dinner

For our first Disney Dinner after returning home from Disney World, I turned to the “sandwich of the future,” the Handwich! I chose chili as the filling, but there are so many other options…I think we might have to try some more of them! Creating the cones out of crescent roll dough was only a little tricky (the real struggle was getting them off of the forms when they were done!), and they didn’t fall apart quite as much as I expected when we were eating them.

For dessert, I made 50’s Prime Time Café-style peanut butter and jelly milkshakes (or just jelly, for Moose), which were really delicious!

This is about the halfway point in the Disney Dinners I planned, so there’s more fun to come…stay tuned!

Summer School 2022

What can I say about this year’s summer school? One thing is for certain…I know I’ll never top it!

Yes, we had a reading list, and there were some amazing choices on there (Ladybug in particular really enjoyed many of the titles), but this summer was all about travel and experiences, including visits to Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. It was like four days of field trips on steroids, where we went on rides, built things, and even learned things! (And let’s not forgot the three days of field trip equivalents in Washington D.C., where we visited monuments and memorials and museums, toured the US Capitol, and walked the grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon! Plus the day at Kennedy Space Center after our Disney fun concluded!)

Back at home, we kept the Disney magic going with art projects:

And games:

And lots and lots of cooking! We had 12 “Disney Dinners” at home over the summer (plus the one we indulged in at The Hollywood Brown Derby), which let us sample copycat recipes from the theme parks and the Disney World resorts:

Ladybug and Bunny especially enjoyed baking and decorating some Mickey Mouse cookies:

It wouldn’t be summer school without a Lego build, and we found the perfect set to reflect our summer fun!

And we squeezed in a few craft projects, including an amazing pumpkin coach, a cupcake liner lei modeled by Stitch, and a string art Mickey Mouse head that left glitter everywhere!

We also watched a ton of Disney documentaries (thank you Disney+) and classic Disney movies, some we had seen before, and some that were new to us. I especially loved the mid-century documentaries from when the theme parks were just getting their start, but the more modern ones, that focused on attractions we saw at Disney World (and their California counterparts) were fascinating, especially after we had the experience of seeing them first-hand.

Like I said, there won’t ever be a summer school like this again, where we were able to blend fun and learning and so many experiences together, but I’m really glad we got to do it once in our lifetime!