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June 2010

Continuing our urban adventure ~ Carrington

We’ve been continuing our urban adventure. Last week’s favourite park was Hollingsford Reserve, Carrington. This park has so much to see and do that we had to visit it two days in a row. There's ...

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hills to roll down,

IMG_0559 puddles to splash,

IMG_0679 boats to row,

IMG_0720bridges to cross,

IMG_0726views to gaze at,

IMG_0749Mangrove seeds to dissect,

IMG_0764and lessons to be learnt.

The Mangroves were sadly littered with lots and lots of rubbish. We spoke about how litter eventually makes its way down drains and into creeks and waterways and had a chat about what we can do to fix the problem.

Want to learn more about Mangroves (so that you can seem wise and knowledgeable next time you walk your kids through Mangroves)? This information sheet is full of loads of useful information, including kid friendly illustrations, an identification guide for the Mangroves of NSW, information on threats and what we can do to help protect Mangroves.

Need more outdoor or play inspiration? Head on over to 5 Orange Potatoes for 'Outdoor Monday' and Childhood 101 for 'We play'. 


While I’m on the topic of popcorn…

…I’d thought I’d share my love for this versatile, healthy and economical pantry staple.

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We always have popcorn in the pantry. We buy it in bulk in lovely reuseable calico bags, storing some in a jar and topping up when needed from a bag stored in the bulk storage bins that live in the bottom of our pantry.

If we need a quick snack for some kids, or a snack for some adults sharing a few drinks…no problems – we always have popcorn. I’ve never seen anyone complain when presented with a bowl of warm freshly popped popcorn.

It’s also a perfect lunch box snack and a great alternative to packets of chips. It’s banned from Little Eco’s childcare centre due to its choking risk, but once she’s old enough I’m sure it will be a lunch box regular.

I seriously don’t get why people buy microwave popcorn? Aside from the fact that it’s highly packaged, expensive, and laden with preservatives and artificial flavours, making the real stuff is just as easy. I simply add a little butter to a saucepan (heavy based pans work best), add a handful of popcorn, pop on a lid and shake a little until the popping stops. The butter adds a lovely flavour, negating the need for salt or other toppings. As a treat we sometimes top with salt or icing sugar and I once made caramel popcorn - it was so delicious I don’t dare make it again.

And best of all – pop corn is healthy. It’s a wholegrain high in fibre and antioxidants and I seem to recall it's one of these wonderful foods that counts as a vegetable as well as a wholegrain (perfect for kids who don’t like vegetables). Just make sure you aren’t too heavy handed with the salt or butter. You can skip fat all-together and air pop in the microwave – but in my opinion it doesn’t taste anywhere near as nice.

And thanks for all the great ice-cream making hints. Were planning give it a go this weekend. I especially loved learning about the ice-cream attachment that you can get for the KitchenAid. Here’s a not so subtle hint Daddy Eco - A pistachio one would be a lovely gift for that milestone birthday I have coming up in a few years? Don’t you think?


Popcorn play

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A morning snack of popcorn became the inspiration for hours of play yesterday. First we created popcorn jewelery....

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Little eco was pretty pleased with herself..and she loved being able to eat her jewelery. I liked that she learnt how to use a needle and thread for the first time and practiced her scissor and measuring skills.

She then decided she had to make a pop corn cake with play dough...

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..and of course she then had to have a tea party and invite her friends. I had planned totally different play ideas for the day, but sometimes its lovely just to see where the day goes....

For more play inspiration head on over to Childhood 101 for We Play.


‘They’re not chips Mum! They’re potatoes!’

Without fail, every time we eat dinner out, Little Eco orders chips. Chips, chips and more chips! What is it with kids and chips! So I thought I’d start cooking chips at home more regularly in the hope that the novelty wore off. Little Eco helped me scrub and cut some organic local potatoes and we tossed them in a little Olive Oil and fresh rosemary and roasted them.

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I dished a few out and asked Little Eco if she would like some chips. She looked at me like I was an idiot and said rather sternly ‘They’re not chips Mum! They’re potatoes!’

I had to laugh. But it did have me thinking. I thought Little Eco had a relatively good awareness of food and where it comes from. We’ve visited the farm where our veges, eggs and yoghurt come from and she watches and helps me cook most meals. So I think she knows where healthy wholesome food comes from, but perhaps she still thinks junk food comes from shops. Like most children (I imagine?) she begs for icecream, lollies and chips when out and about and we do allow her to have these as treats every now and then.

I like Michael Pollan's rule: “Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” Perhaps I need to start cooking more ‘junk’ food at home as an occasional treat? I think we’ll try making icecream. I bet she doesn’t know ‘real’ ice-cream is simply made with milk, cream, eggs and sugar. Have any of you made icecream and have any good hints?

Also...Thank you to those who left comments on my last post and shared you and your children’s experiences playing outdoors.  They’re worth reading if you haven’t already. I was particularly interested to learn that some of you didn’t have much outdoor unstructured play time growing up – and yet obviously now care for the environment. That surprises me, as I have always considered my childhood outdoor time was responsible for my passion for nature conservation. Perhaps we can care about the environment without having spent much time in nature? Perhaps we are born with an innate desire to conserve our environment. I hope so. I like that idea.