Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cuz I'm a (super natural) gummy bear!

Who remembers this television theme song chorus:

"Gummi Bears,
Bouncing here and there and everywhere.
High adventure that’s beyond compare,
They are the Gummi Bears

It could be that these gummi bears were bouncing here and there and everywhere because they were just a dental disaster filled with sugar and food dyes. Yuck, not for my kids! They are wild enough as it is!
We decided before sending Boo to school last year that we would cleanse his system from these devils that could get in the way of learning. 
But lets be real, bright sugary foods are fun! And, enjoyed in moderation, there is room for them in my kids' diets.
Natural candies are expensive and a treat we really don't budget for. That is why I was super pleased to have the opportunity to review this gummy bear mold.

My kids were pleased too! While waiting as I scoured the Internet for recipes, Boo practiced filling the bear shaped cavities in typical Montessori fashion.

Then, noticing the giant bowl of oranges we keep refilling this time of year, sought out an orange juice based one. The kids took turns squeezing oranges and measuring out the juice.
We added honey as a sweetener and powdered gelatin (not Jello! just regular gelatin. You CAN find recipes using Jello but these contain food dyes and many other chemicals)

After heating the concoction on the stove to dissolve the gelatin, The Ogre, Boo and I took turns using the provided syringe to fill the cavities. The was the best part of all! The liquid was super hot, so we didn't involve Moo, but there was something extremely satisfying about this part of the process.

We ran out of space and The Ogre decided to use the silicone ice cube tray, something I would not recommend as the size of the gummy bears seems to be PERFECT, and even the barely filled squares were obnoxiously over sized. Plus, and I am unsure why on this one, the bears popped easily out of their mold living no residue behind, while the squares crumbled and left a good quarter of the snack within. I would recommend either halving the recipe or buying two trays. Luckily the seller does give a 25% discount if you buy two trays. Given that the trays are already on sale for half off, this is an EXCELLENT deal!

The gummies will cool and harden if left out at room temperature, but the process can be sped up by putting the tray in the freezer (energy waste!). Guess this is one of the benefits of the cold weather, because we set the mold out on the back steps and they were firm WITH ICE CRYSTALS EVEN in our subzero weather.
In the end I have to say the experience was enjoyable and we will definitely be making more, but as for our first attempt? The orange recipe was blah. My sister in law thought perhaps it was too much pulp but I am even wondering if one of the oranges was off in flavor, or perhaps the ratios were off and there was too much gelatin and not enough OJ.  

Still they popped out easy and kept their form.

Have you ever made your own gummy snacks? With a mold? What flavor/recipe did you use? Looking for recommendations on what to try next. 

I received this product in exchange for my unbiased review 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

What do a boat, a piano, and my freezer have in common?

Sometimes I take a picture and think to myself, that would be a good one to blog about. 

I recently upgraded my phone and decided, rather than to save some random pictures in a digital garbage pit, I could at least share a sampling from this last quarter.

For instance, I had intended to blog about the toy boat The Ogre had made for the kids for Moo's birthday. It is a sweet little reading boat, repurposed from a book shelf that a local business had discarded. Already shaped like a boat, he removed several shelves, leaving one for books. He also reinforced the bottom and removed many sharp pieces. He began to create a "floor pillow" but didn't have that done in time for Moo's birthday. Good thing, as the kids just love dragging every blanket in the house into the thing and even giggle at him thinking of making a special padded flooring when the random assortment of blankets is oh so fun!

We are so excited to have lessons starting next weekend. I forgot I told Boo I would learn with him, but he certainly did not forget!

And then there is the piano! The ever yearned for piano! 
Boo and I have talked about piano ownership ever since the talk of getting a new house started, and this fall it turned into a reality! 

We fundraised our butts off, well not really that much, but the kids had a root beer stand and we all worked together on a garage sale this summer. 

After all that work and my squirreling away unexpected cash here and there, we still were not quite up to enough to purchase from Keys 4 Kids, but The Ogre decided to take over as the used piano expert. The research had overwhelmed me, so I wanted someone else to do the work. The Ogre thought that unlike me to spend hundreds extra to pay Keys 4 Kids to do that (great as they are, we don't have a lot of financial wiggle room). I was so happy for him to find this beauty on Craigslist, inspect it with an expert, arrange for a mover and SURPRISE me with it in our front room. 

And to reinforce that it was MEANT TO BE, I found this beautiful chair that the store couldn't sell for the nearly $300 it retailed for because one leg needed to be adjusted. 

By the way we have another chair that needs to be reupholstered but is identical. Any of you done such reupholstering? I would love to tackle it together!
Practicing with hopes to be recruited by 94 East
My favorite toys for the kids are the ones that we already have around the house.
And I can't help but love when they want to help me with my tasks. I swooned when Moo told me to step aside so SHE could scrub the range hood vents. She is going to LOVE Montessori when she is big enough.
And then of course there is the whole issue of food in our house.

Food is a giant expense, but we keep it low with lots of tricks, including reducing waste and storing what is in season. So I had to love this picture of my freezer that shows it all. Notice the parboiled then frozen produce that is packed into my freezer, and the excitement we must have had when we chiseled enough space to make some homemade rocket pops. 
Many nights we go to sleep to the sound of the food dehydrator whirring, wake up in the morning just to fill it up again! It may have been some of these tomatoes that I added to give the chili I served some friends for dinner tonight a bit more dimension, but as for these banana chips? The kids can hardly wait for them to finish before they gobble them down!  

Unfortunately there were a lot more pictures, but, me and tech, I seemed to have lost them. Anyhow, the memories are good, but we make them every day, so the loss of those pictures is not a great distress.

Hope your new year is going well. I am still working on my New Year's Resolutions. I am THINKING of making 12 Resolutions. One for each month that I can blog about. I want them to be DIY or sustainability focused. Small things like learning to darn socks or clean a fish. Please leave me a comment with any ideas!