Monthly Archives: June 2014

Firecracker Candy Rolls

The 4th of July is just around the corner!  Time to start planning your 4th of July picnic.  Firecracker Candy Rolls make a cute addition for your picnic table.

4th of July Table with Firecracker Candy Rolls

4th of July Table with Firecracker Candy Rolls

They are so easy to make!  First get some sort of candy in a roll: Rolos, Life Savers, Mentos, etc.  Then cut some string and ribbons to look like a fuze and sparks.  Attach them to one end of the candy roll with a glue dot.  Cover the candy roll with red, white, or blue paper and then decorate them with stars, stickers, or anything patriotic.

Firecracker Candy Roll

Firecracker Candy Roll

This is a fun craft activity for both kids and adults, and the little firecrackers will make your 4th of July table extra festive!

Summer Berries

Summer time is berry time!  In addition to eating them like crazy this time of year (especially the strawberries and cherries!) like to decorate my kitchen with strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, etc. for summer.  There is something cheerful and refreshing about these summer treats and seeing them around our kitchen makes me happy.

I searched all over for my collection of various berry accessories and decorations.  Pottery Barn, Target, Michaels, Crate and Barrel, and Sur La Table all had good stuff. I found strawberry placemats and dish towels, a blueberry bowl, and a porcelain berry basket I filled with berry napkin rings.  (Luckily the napkin ring parts didn’t show.)  I used some cherry paper as a background for a picture.  I also got lots of artificial berries to put in clear glass containers.

Cherries Frame

Cherries Frame

Berries Table

Berries Table

Summer Berries

Summer Berries

The best part about using berries as summer decorations is that they are red and blue – ready made for Independence Day!  When July 4th rolls around, I just add in a few patriotic accents along with the berry accessories, and I’m all set.

Father’s Day Feast

I always feel like dads have an unfair disadvantage when it comes to their very own holiday.  Mother’s Day is in May before school is out, so kids have a chance to make cute projects and gifts for moms at school that have been carefully planned by their teachers.  Then on Mother’s Day itself, everyone takes their moms out to brunch so that the moms don’t have to cook.  No such luck for dads though – Father’s Day is in June when school is out and everyone is too distracted by summer fun to think of a thoughtful gift.

While we do always remember to make a big deal out of Father’s Day in our family, it is a little ironic that it’s the one day a year when my dad cooks the meal – although he wouldn’t have it any other way.  Ever since i was about 7 or 8 years old we have had kabobs on the grill for Father’s Day – and it’s one of everyone’s favorite meals of the year!  Our kabobs are very simple: onions, cherry tomatoes, little red potatoes, and steak.  Since it’s such a special occasion, my mom usually gets some ridiculously good cut of steak like fillet mignon that a butcher would probably be horrified to know was being cut into little cubes and slapped on the grill – but it always makes the kabobs soooooo delicious.  Totally worth the splurge for a special day!  My dad carefully builds the kabobs and then goes out to slave away over the grill to cook them.  When they are ready we gobble them up!  For dessert we have a strawberry pie – a perfect summertime meal with great summertime foods.

Last year was my husband’s first Father’s Day.  I gave him the option of doing the kabobs another time so that he could create his own new Father’s Day traditions.  But he too enjoys our Father’s Day kabobs so much himself now that he wanted to keep our tradition for himself – with one new addition.  He loves to cook and bake, so he decided that he wanted to contribute the rolls for the meal, and he made fantastic Parker house rolls.  Check out the recipe he used at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/parker-house-rolls-recipe.html.

Father's Day Feast

Father’s Day Feast

So that’s our Father’s Day.  The dads in the family work hard to cook a mouthwatering meal for everyone else.  It hardly seems fair, but that’s what makes them happy, and it is their day after all.  We are certainly a lucky family!

Bonus Author of the Month: Mo Willems

So I know I said May was my final Author of the Month for the year, but I now present to you an Author of the Month Bonus Edition: Mo Willems!  His books are wonderful at any time of the year.  They are so fun, funny, and engaging that I especially like to tack them on either at the very end or the very beginning of the school year when kids are too keyed up to pay attention to much else.  They are also perfect for summer reading, of course!

His books include the Knuffle Bunny series, the Pigeon series, and the Elephant and Piggie series as well as other fabulous stand alone books.  They are all hilarious and so much fun to read out loud.  Kids love to chime in as the books are being read.  They are so relatable for people of all ages – you can’t help but chuckle as you read them.  And I dare you to read the Knuffle Bunny books – especially the last one – without getting a bit choked up.  Because of this, I don’t really use a lot of extra activities to accompany them – they are just a joy to read and stand on their own – another reason they work well for the end or beginning of the school year or for summer.

Learning about Mo Willems himself is great for kids (and grown ups) too.  Be sure to look for his DVD on which he gives step by step instructions about how to draw Pigeon.  Take time to Google him too.  There are some great interviews with him out there – my favorite was when he drew cartoons with Al Roker – he has a great philosophy about how children learn and become excited about reading and learning through drawing and expressing themselves creatively.  Such a refreshing perspective in this time of standardized tests and coloring in bubbles!  My husband is even a huge Mo Willems fan and even follows him on Twitter – he is hilarious and has wonderful things to share for adults and kids alike.

So if you are looking for some funny summer reading, regardless of your age, please check out the work of Mo Willems.  I know it will be a highlight of your summer!