Recovering

This week we have been recovering from last week. It was a tough week and far less than productive than normal due mostly to the fact that Papa Penguin was on a business trip. After we all got over our jealousy of Daddy being some place warm (which took awhile as we had record lows that week) we did have some fun.

We did dishes as a family. The boys really enjoyed being able to do the grown up job. I didn’t even have to pay them!

Baby girl learned new “tricks” to impress people, such as a true crawl, pulling herself up and finally growing a tooth.

Even I got in on the fun and tried my hand at using rag curlers to make my hair pretty. I was surprised at how curly it made my hair and the fact that the curls stayed until I finally washed them out.

To cap off the week, we made a giant “tent” to sleep under in the living room. At this point I was going a bit stir crazy and the plan that started off as being a small tent attached to one window ended up to be a false ceiling expanding the entire living room. It was a bit like sleeping under a big top tent at a circus.

I love the way the light made the tent glow in the evening and early morning.

I’m sure the kids will look back and remember how crazy their mom was when they were little. Honestly, I think I’m okay with that.

Hair Raising Entertainment

Little Monkey has been down and out with a nasty cough and the lovely illness is trying to spread to the rest of the family, so we’ve been trying to take it easy here at the zoo. That doesn’t mean, however, that we’ve been without any fun.

A simple green balloon was all that was needed for a few hours worth of entertainment for the day. There were a variety of games played ranging from the classic “keep hitting the balloon to keep it from touching the floor,” to the more scientific game of “generate static cling and attach the balloon to your head” as demonstrated by Young Owl.

I love when the kids can find a non-toy that sparks they’re imagination and creativity. They can play with the simplest things for hours and in multiple ways but give them a toy they’ve asked for because they’ve seen it in a commercial and they’ll play with it for only a few minutes before it gets put aside.

Even baby girl got in on the balloon play action when Young Owl invented the game “make baby sister’s hair stand straight up.” Needless to say it got lots of giggles from both Mama Zoo Keeper and Young Owl.

Where was Little Monkey during all this fun? Well he was taking a completely unusual nap for three hours! Hopefully he is over this illness soon because his giggle is heartwarming and contagious.

I apologize for the slightly blurry photo, I thought it would be rude to use the flash and wake up the napping monkey. He tends to be cranky when awoken from a nap, that is unless you are waking him up to tell him Electric Company is about to start.

Caramel Apples Two Ways

Delicious crisp and sweet caramel apples where a surprise treat for the boys for our family Valentine’s dinner at the zoo. As promised, here is the tutorial on how to make caramel apples.

To begin assemble your ingredients and tools.

Ingredients:

4 to 5 apples, I choose 4 very large Honey Crisp apples

1 bag of Kraft Caramels

1 tablespoon water

a generous handful semi-sweet chocolate chips

a small handful vanilla chips

assorted sprinkles

Tools:

microwave

popsicle sticks

microwave safe bowls

plate for finished apples

wax paper

butter or cooking spray

Begin by washing the apples and inserting a popsicle stick into the center of the apple near the stem. Now prep your finished plate by covering it in wax paper and coating the wax paper with a generous amount of cooking spray or butter. You don’t want your apples sticking to the wax paper after all your hard work.

Next unwrap all the caramels in the bag, there should be around 50, and place them in a microwave safe bowl or a glass measuring cup. Make sure the container is wide enough to submerge the apple yet not so wide that the caramel doesn’t cover the apple when submerged.

Add a tablespoon of water to the caramels. Microwave the caramels on high for 2 – 3 1/2 minutes in one minute intervals, stirring and checking them to see if they have melted completely. When they are melted they should freely flow off the spoon.

Mmm, caramel….

Resist the urge to put a little caramel on your finger to lick off. It will burn as it is really hot, not that I know from personal experience or anything.

Now carefully submerge the apple in the caramel, letting it coat the apple withing an inch or so of the top of the apple.

Carefully lift up the apple and scrap the bottom of the apple along the bowl to remove the excess caramel.

If you are making a sprinkle covered apple, roll the apple in sprinkles and place on the plate to set.

To make the chocolate swirl caramel apples, dip in the apple in the caramel and then set on the plate. Next melt a handful of chocolate chips by microwaving them on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. It should take about a minute for them to be warm enough to melt. (Here’s a hint, when the chocolate chips appear shinny they will melt completely when stirred.)

Now just drizzle/glop the melted chocolate on the top of the apple. Be generous but don’t worry about it looking pretty at this point.

Now repeat the same process with the vanilla chips. Microwave them then drizzle/glop them on the top of the apple a little less generously than what you did with the chocolate.

Now let’s pretty these apples up a bit. Take an extra popsicle stick and swirl the melted chocolate and vanilla.

Keep swirling until you get the affect your looking for. Now lick the warm chocolately goodness off the popsicle stick, don’t worry I won’t tell.

Place the plate of apples in the fridge for an hour or so to set the caramel. When your ready to sever them be sure to give them time to warm back up to room temperature  before you go bitting into one. Unless of course you want to go visit the dentist.

We found it easiest to cut the apple into wedges before eating. These large apples easily served two.

Valentines at the zoo

Scenes from tonight’s family Valentine’s dinner…

Prepping dinner of four.

Note to self: look for non-Christmas tablecloths this year at garage sales.

Little Monkey’s close up of his heart shaped pizza.

Table set for fine dining at the zoo, complete with real glasses, nice dishes, a tablecloth and a candle!

Surprise special Valentine’s day treat!

Stop back later this week for a tutorial.

Long time gone

The zoo has been off-line for quite a while now. Hopefully we can make time to update our blog on a regular basis.

Here is what’s new in the zoo:

  1. Birthing a new baby girl in mid-July. She is happy, healthy and growing quickly. Still doesn’t have a zoo name…
  2. Venturing into homeschooling. Young Owl and Little Monkey are both homeschooling this year.
  3. Learning even more crafts. Mama Zookeeper has what seems like a fifty craft and sewing projects on her to do list.
  4. Becoming ever greener, the zoo is delving into cloth diapering. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to give up plastic too, but not yet.
  5. Reconnecting with old (and not so old) friends and family via Facebook. Yep, the zoo is hooked.
  6. Living day to day life that is full of ups and downs.

As you can see we’ve been living in verbs. The zoo looks to continue to be a busy place in the coming months.