Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fall Fun Bucket List Update

The other week during our nature walk we collected some items from along the trail. Mostly acorns, some leaves (at different stages of changing colors), sticks, twigs, small pebbles and even a couple feathers. This weekend we used our assortment of "cool nature stuff" to create nature pictures. Our pile of stuff in the center of the table, they quickly determined what it was they wanted to create. They all came up with different ideas. Jordan made a nature scene, Joey created a picture frame, and Jacob made UOLO (suppose to be YOLO, but he insisted that it was a U for YOU. It was his masterpiece I wasn't going to argue with him.). I went with a picture of us walking off the path at the nature center. There were so many acorns and Jacob was curious as to what exactly was inside them. He was surprised they were so hard to open, he figured he should be able to do it easily because squirrels can do it. :) He tried cutting them with scissors and sent a few flying through the kitchen.  After Jordan took a hammer to it for him, he was disappointed that it was only a tiny little nut and it didn't like appetizing.

We had a rough start finding a family book to read. Most of the classics we have already read or seen the movies for. Also Jacob doesn't like books where the girl is the main character or there are too many girls in the story.  I have had a difficult time finding new books to share with my boys. We settled on Spy School by Stuart Gibbs from our librarian's recommended list. They love playing spy games, so hopefully this book will live up to their expectations. We got a good start on the book this weekend, completing the first four chapters. A plus to this book compared to the one we chose for our summer bucket list, the chapters are much shorter and the story line moves along quicker.

We also tackled make caramel apples. Some really neat ideas had found their way to me and we incorporated them in what should have been a simple activity. We cut our apples in halves and dug out the centers using spoons so they could be filled with caramel and later sliced into smaller wedges. I heard about making our own caramel by heating condensed milk, figured it could something fun to try. Not being able to track down the post I saw it on, I researched some different methods. The stovetop seemed liked the easiest route to go, with the exception of  if the water didn't cover the lid of the can at all times it could cause it to explode. So I boiled the water, then dropped in the cans, and turned the heat down. Unfortunately I was a little worried about an explosion occurring in my kitchen and turned the heat down a bit too far; we basically ended up with really warm condensed milk. Figuring all is not lost and dumped some in a bowl and tossed it into the microwave. The kids liked watching it fizzle up and stirring it back down. However we just weren't getting the caramel coloring we had hoped for. After filling some of our apple halves with the concoction and set them in the fridge to chill, I came up with a brilliant idea. Instead of cooking the milk in the can on the stove, I would just pour it into a saucepan to cook, that way I could see when we got the color we wanted. It worked out pretty good, there was more of a brown coloring but it thickened really quickly. Jordan held onto the apple halves as I attempted to get our gloopy caramel into them. It was a bit challenging and being so focused on the task at hand I forgot that I had just removed it from the stove and used my finger to smooth out the caramel. I managed  to give myself a nice 2nd degree burn along the side of my finger and underneath my nail. OUCH!! So I took the opportunity to teach the boys the proper way to treat a burn. (Teachable moments happen all the time). After dinner we tried to slice our apple halves, the caramel was too hard and sticky to cut through so they at them as they were. The caramel made in the microwave tasted more like caramel, but the stovetop one looked and felt more like caramel. I think we'll stick to the store bought caramel from now on.