Monday, February 23, 2015

Egg Geodes - Dino Egg Week

When I was surfing for ideas to tie together a theme with Ivan's inquiry about whether dinosaurs or eggs came first, I was stoked to find egg geodes.  This is such a beautiful way to wrap up the unit and had great potential.  Ivan loves gemstones, patterns, mixing colors and doing experiments.

We started by prepping the eggs; gently tapping loose an end to empty the shell & rinse it out.  We ended up getting some really stubborn eggs.  It took us over half an hour to scrape the membranes loose from the shell with many breaking up too much to use.

While I finished up prepping the shells, Ivan got busy concocting the colors he wanted to use.  We happened to have regular food dye and neon colors so he came up with some cool combos; apricot & mint green, raspberry & orange sunset and dusty rose & turquoise.  He mixed the colors in separate bowls so we could then add in the water and salt mediums.  We used sea salt, rock salt and borax.  With the 3 color/salt combos, we poured 2 shells of each type.

We watched the shells morph over 7 days.  As the days passed, the crystallization progressed with all shells.  Water evaporation went much slower with the borax shells.  As the salt passed through the shells to crystallize on the outside, the colors also passed through.  We were surprised to see that the color combos actually separated.  By the third day, the sea salt & rock salt shells water was pretty much gone.  The borax shell had water in it until day 6.  Even though the water seemed to be gone, the crystallization continued on the sea salt & rock salt.  At first, we were bummed to not see much happening with the borax shells.

This is our beginning picture of the shells filled with dyed salt waters.

We checked on the shells after a couple hours and were really surprised to see some crystallization already happening with the sea salt ones.  You can see the colors separating already.

After 2 hours, the rock salt & borax eggs hadn't changed.

Look at all those crystals on day 6!

More awesome crystals mostly around the edge and in different spots.

Hardly any crystals - ho hum...

Geodes cracked open for better look.  Striped colors amazed us!

More beauty with colors morphing.  Very little apricot showing & where'd that purple come from?

While seemingly ho-hum from the outside, cracking open the borax proved to be worth the wait.  So gorgeous and most like a real geode.

As Ivan so aptly noted, just goes to prove that you can't judge a book by it's cover.  And first impressions can be wrong.  And the best - there can be more to the "story" than what we can see or understand unless we take the time to dig deeper.  I know, right!  How freaking awesome is it that he's tied all this life stuff together.   I couldn't have dreamed how beautifully this unit would pull together or the scope of learning that would happen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Walking on Eggs... Not Shells!

We've all heard the cliché of walking on eggshells.  But, have you ever actually walked on eggs?  We did during our Dino Egg Week.  The kids were a bit apprehensive thinking that surely the eggs would break under their weight.  I mean, we frequently tell them to be careful with eggs in the kitchen... almost daily.  And yes, we tried this outside.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I wasn't taking any chances with an ill-placed foot.

Ready to walk...

Focused on the feet to see if there's any breakage.  So far, so good!

Holly was determined and a wee bit frustrated that her eggs wouldn't break.

Ivan was just confounded, even though he understood the why behind it.

Ivan decided that I needed to have a turn because with more weight there'd be more pressure and hopefully some breakage.  I was so ready to show him the weight wouldn't matter.

And it shouldn't have, but dangit... one of my eggs wasn't positioned right.  Ivan was thrilled that I broke an egg.  He called Holly back over to see & they laughed hysterically.

So, why is it that we must be so careful with raw eggs when handling them yet we can walk on them if placed on end?  Do you know?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lemon Curd Poke Cake

This is a rich, decadent cake.  I've got a major sweet tooth and a small piece is very satisfying!  Bonus points - it's deceptively nutritious with the quinoa.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we are.

Free of; coconut, corn, dairy, gluten, nuts, refined sugar

Cake Ingredients

2 1/3 cups flour mix*
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (corn free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
7/8 cup (7 ounces) raw honey
2/3 cup Light EVOO (or oil of choice)
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (or vanilla)
1/2 cup water


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Oil bottom & sides of a baking dish and line with parchment paper.  I used a 7”x9” glass pan.  If using a larger pan or splitting batter between cake pans, adjust down bake time.

Mix together flour, quinoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.  Blend together honey & oil until it’s an even consistency (not separating).  I used an immersion blender for this.  Add eggs & maple syrup to blended mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. 

Add flour mixture to blended mixture alternately with water, stirring well after each addition.  I did about 1/3 of flour & water each time.  Continue stirring for another minute.

Pour batter in prepared pan. The batter is thick & runny.  Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Poke holes into the top of cake.  I used the butt end of a chopstick.

While the cake’s cooling make up the curd.  You can prep it while the cake bakes, but wait to heat until the cake’s out of the oven.

Lemon Curd Topping

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 heavy ounce raw honey (need a splash more than 1 oz.)
4 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons Light EVOO (or oil of choice)


Combine all ingredients in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler if you’ve got one).  Heat on medium, while stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture thickens.

If it starts frothing, turn the heat down a bit.  It's done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Granted with the honey, it’s tricky to tell.  You want a thick layer, not a film.  Remove from heat & pour over cake.  Spread with spatula over top so that it fills holes.  Let cool while eating dinner & then dig in!

Cover & keep in fridge until your tribe polishes it off.

*Flour Mix

  • 1 part Sorghum flour
  • 1/2 part White Rice flour
  • 1/2 part Brown Rice flour
  • 1/2 part Tapioca flour
  • 2/3 part Arrowroot flour

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dino Eggxcavation

During my hunt for activities to do during our Dinosaur Egg Week to answer Ivan's question about which came first dinosaurs or eggs, I ran across this awesomeness for dino eggs at ABC Does.  Check out their easy recipe using soil and used coffee grounds.  How could your kid not love this?!  Ivan loves to cook and was really intrigued about adding soil to our kitchen... and me encouraging it!  As an extra treat, we baked these up & hid them in the yard while Holly was away from home.

Mixing up dino egg batter with dirt!

Once mixed, check consistency by making egg-shaped balls in hand.  If they crumble, add more water.  The blend of coffee and dirt had my nose totally confused.  And the look... well, it's rather poo-ish, isn't it!

Ivan thought this was hysterical and laughed so hard he could barely see enough to help me add-in the dinosaurs.  You want to find small dinosaurs to fit inside.  Ours were around an inch in length.

Smush the dino into the egg so that it's completely covered.

And they're ready to bake into fossil eggs!

Ivan couldn't wait for Holly to get home so they could be archaeologists.  We happened to pick a rather frigid day for this, but they wouldn't be deterred.  Immune to the cold as only kids are, they went out armed with shovels ready to find the dinosaur eggs.  Ivan's enthusiasm was super contagious.

Holly found her first egg and shrieked so loud in delight!  Ivan thoroughly enjoyed psyching her up & loved her reaction to his surprise for her.

She was so happy with her first egg that she wanted to crack it open right then.  We convinced her to look for more and we saved the cracking for inside.

Ivan was torn between finding eggs and watching how delighted Holly was with her treasure.

Inside & thawed out.  Time to dig in & figure out what's inside.  Holly went at hers with brute force.

Meanwhile, Ivan meticulously excavated his to uncover the "fossils".

Hard at work; concentrating & determined.  And yeah, great way to add cleaning the floor to the agenda.  The bigger the mess, the better!

Holly insisted on giving her dinosaurs a bath and spent the next 20 minutes getting every speck of dirt off so they sparkled.

Our treasures for the day!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bouncy Egg

Our Bouncy Egg experiment (aka rubber egg and see through).  The anticipation of being able to bounce a raw egg had the kids on edge for 5 days until we could finally test it out.

Ivan loved being behind the camera taking pictures and videos to log all the progress.

Day 1 - The Beginning as narrated & filmed by Ivan!

4 hours into the vinegar soak, the egg was floating & bubbling like crazy.

Day 2 - The egg is still floating & bubbling.  It seems to have enlarged.

Day 2 - Putting the egg back in after draining the vinegar.  Notice that the shell is almost gone.

After replacing the egg, it was covered with fresh vinegar.  The egg stayed at the bottom instead of floating up & remained sunken until the end of experiment.  Notice the shell bits immediately floating off the egg into the vinegar.

Day 5 - The egg definitely seems larger.  It's filling up most of the bottom of the jar.  The bubbling action from the vinegar eating the shell has stopped.

Pouring the egg out of the jar and it barely fit through the opening!

Holding the egg up to light.  You can see the yolk at the bottom.  The egg felt like a very squishy rubber ball.

After so much anticipation building for 5 days, Ivan got first crack at trying to bounce this egg.  To our amazement, it actually bounced!  He gingerly dropped it from several inches above the table, barely catching it before it rolled off.  Then, he wanted to get a video of Holly bouncing it.  And, as toddlers do, she gave it one good bounce causing it to splat all over the end of the table & floor!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fennel Celery Pear Slaw

Our newest concoction nicknamed Yumminess Slaw came about from us being in an adventurous mood and finding a great deal on fennel bulbs.  Until now, we'd only ever used fennel seeds in tea to aid in calming colic when the kids were babies.  Over the summer with Ivan working at our local farmers market, he learned more about the fennel plant.  Did you know that the whole plant from bulb root to flowery end and everything in between is edible?

I didn't.  And it is delicious!  This slaw was inspired by trying to put a twist on a waldorf salad since we can't do a traditional one.  It makes a great light side dish.

Top 8 allergen free, coconut free, nut free, soy free


  • 1 fennel bul, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, sliced thin
  • 1 large firm pear, sliced thin (Bosc, Comice, Concord do well)
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced thin
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • juice from 1 lemon wedge (~ 1/4 tsp)
  • dash of salt


Prep fruit & veggies by washing, peeling & thinly slicing.  Toss in a medium size bowl and set aside. Mix up the dressing - olive oil, honey, lemon juice & salt.  Drizzle dressing over slaw and gently toss.  Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Rapscallionist Learning Movement

Ivan and Holly are honing their trade skills in the arts as Master Rapscallions.  They are determined to learn whether I participate or not.  Yesterday was supposed to be a “sick” day.  Let me fill you in so you can get the bigger picture…  All 3 of us were feeling like death warmed over as we continued to heal from independent allergic reactions.  To say we were grumpy would be a blatant stab at the obvious!  Patience vacated the premises in the dark of night as the littles crept into the parental bed at staggered times.  The cherished sleep that comes with the cloak of darkness was fitful at best as the kids morphed into their ghoulish personas.  The Ninja, aka Holly, practices her high kicks & Karate Kid wax on, wax off moves impervious to any bodily hindrances.  My thighs have permanent bruising to bear witness to these overnight practices.  And after 3 years, I instinctively guard my face & throat.  One high kick to the throat when trying to sleep is more than enough for a lifetime.  Then there’s the Boa Constrictor, aka Ivan, known to completely swallow a whole body whilst softly snoring.  Shifting to surface for air has become a true art.  Not often do both kiddos wind up in the parental bed, but when they do, we lift up a silent thanks to the universe for the choice to upgrade to a king bed when Holly joined the Tribe.  And we made sure that we had an alternating pattern of kid, adult, kid, adult for sleeping arrangements to avoid the suffocation of Holly or World War 3 being declared with an ill placed punch or kick to Ivan.  Can’t tell you how much I love waking up after hours of being sardined in between the Ninja & Boa Constrictor.  So, more recently, I’ve adopted the adage that it’s our bed.  If you need to join us, it’s okay but you gotta carve out your own space.  Love ya, but Mama can’t function with little sleep & Sardineitis.

So started off our morning.  Post good morning pleasantries and symptom checking the oil & water mix became apparent in short order.  Wishing I could ship them both off to a brick & mortar school so I could be luxurious and just crawl my haggard self to bed, I sat mindlessly going through the motions of eating breakfast.  I think I had maybe 2 bites before both kids were done and ready to move on, both vying for my attention or lap.  Couldn’t I just have 5 minutes to eat & suck down the life-sustaining manna of the sleep-deprived?  COFFEE, please.  Please, please, I beg you please let me drink one cup in peace.  Then, we can snuggle and cuddle the aches away, try to soothe the endless snot snorting that drives my ears absolutely bat-shit crazy.  Yeah, yeah… It’s a pipe dream, I know.

Lately, Ivan and Holly have simultaneously decided through ESP or something that instead of getting ready for the day after breakfast that it’s time to start crafting.  At first, I embraced it because it gave me a chance to at least try to finish my breakfast at less than break-neck speed when I move at a slug’s pace in the morning.  And this worked okay for awhile, until they then decided that they just want to craft all day long.  While I wish we could do that, it’s just not realistic.  I didn’t have the energy to fight it yesterday, especially when Ivan interrupted my commode time to launch into a very persuasive argument on how he could tie in the project with our current unit.  I went with it, even helped plan the project and help provide ideas for problem-solving when we figured out we didn’t have all the needed supplies.  We switched gears to a different, but similar project.  All I wanted to do was crawl back in bed.  When the bickering started, I walked away and told them if they wanted to do the project they could go ahead without me.

I walked away fully expecting bloodshed from some perceived injustice.  Plopped down on the couch with my cup of cold coffee rewarmed too many times to even bother with and braced myself to break up the inevitable turmoil.  Low & behold as I listened, a miraculous event unfolded before my ears.  Ivan & Holly pulled together in my “absence”.  Holly was inspired not to follow the pattern for her mosaic & did an abstract.  Ivan usually bothered with these types of interpretations, shrugged & didn’t just go with it, but helped her when she asked.  As they worked together, they also had a friendly banter going, discussing what else… their art; motivation, technique and what they liked about each others.  I was blown away and left to consider that maybe, just maybe, I need to walk away more often.

Mosaic Plate Art
Left is Holly's' abstract interpretation of a sunset
Right is Ivan's meticulously laid out pattern