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Archive for the ‘summer’ tag

June 20th, 2013 at 9:15 am

Ice Cream Recipes


Who doesn’t love ice cream?  It’s a summertime staple!  And while there’s nothing wrong with a classic vanilla cone, if you’re looking for something a little different this year, try some of these tasty frozen treats, some made from scratch:

  • Peach Ice Cream with Grilled Peaches – One of the best summer treats combined with one of the best summer fruits?  Yes please!
  • Banana-Coconut Ice Cream – I love banana ice cream and the coconut in this recipe, while not overpowering, does give it a nice additional flavor.
  • Cherry & Nutella Ice Cream Sundae – Okay, so this recipe isn’t for homemade ice cream, but it sounded too good to NOT tell you about it!
  • Make a bowl out of an orange peel!  Just cut off the top third of an orange, remove the juice inside, and add a scoop of ice cream and whatever toppings you want!
  • Confetti Cookiewich – Press ice cream between two cookies (your choice of flavor) and roll the sides in colored sprinkles.  For a more patriotic effect, use red, white and blue sprinkles.  Not just good for the 4th of July!

What are some of your favorite ways to eat ice cream?

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June 19th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Planning a Picnic


There’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors with your kids than planning a nice, relaxing picnic. Many local parks have grassy areas or picnic tables that are perfect for some lunch and fun activities. Bring a blanket just in case there are no tables, and pack some yummy lunches and activities to keep the little ones busy. Here are some things to consider:

Picnic Recipes

The foods you bring on a picnic should be easy to make, cold (you won’t be able to warm anything up or keep it warm), and require little to no cleanup. Parents Magazine has some great recipes for picnic food (see below). Generally sandwiches, pasta salads, and fruits and veggies are perfect for the occasion.

Sandwich Bouquets

Melon Swizzlers

A-B-C Pasta Salad

Picnic Activities

There are so many options for picnic activities. An obvious choice is a simple sport-like activity like Frisbee or a variation of football (throw and catch). You can play Simon Says or Red-Light, Green-Light as well. For the younger ones, it’s fun to play I Spy or read some stories in the shade. You can bring some paint and paper and do leaf stamping which is good for all ages. There are sometimes playgrounds they can play on while you watch.


Bring baby wipes and hand sanitizer…food and dirt can get messy, and you want to make sure they sanitize their hands before they eat with them. Also, make sure your kids are hydrated throughout your picnic. They’ll be running around in the sun and heat and need extra fluids.

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June 17th, 2013 at 11:18 am

Taking Kids to a Farmer’s Market

Most Saturday mornings in summer you will find our family strolling the local Farmer’s Market. The Farmer’s Market is a great place to bring your kids! It provides a great family activity, but also provides healthy food for your family while you are able to support your local community. This past week was kids’ week at our market so it added extra fun like free comics, plants, and the ability to get our faces painted and tour the fire trucks. My kids also love going to the Farmer’s Market on weeks that don’t have those things too.

We love to pick a new item to try each week or something we don’t eat very often. The deal is that when I make it the kids actually have to try it, which helps that they pick it out. We actually have had a few successes over the last few summers. As we purchase and look at items we talk about their health benefits and ways they help our body grow.

Another great activity is talking about all the different farmers that are selling the items. My boys love to talk with the vendors and ask what their favorite item is to grow or where their farm is located. It brings children a sense of community and helps them to feel a little more connected to the food. We also talk about how much of the food was just picked the last couple of days.

There aren’t just fruits and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market either. We love to buy some honey or maple syrup along with eggs, cheese, meat and fish. You truly can find an entire meal there. We also enjoy some homemade kettle corn or freshly made mini donuts and egg rolls. That makes it fun for the kids to have a treat.

Want to find a local Farmer’s Market near you? Check out Local Harvest and enjoy some of your communities freshest offerings!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.




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June 14th, 2013 at 8:46 am

Sandbox Fun

The sand beneath your toes, the sun in the sky and fun toys like pails, shovels, and cars offer an endless amount of fun! For those of us that don’t have a beach nearby, this is the next best thing – a sandbox in your backyard! Think of the possibilities… you can make a town to use your cars with, a construction site with dumptrucks carrying sand all over, or even a magical world with castles.

I remember as a child spending hours in the sandbox and I love it when my children do it now. Don’t have a sandbox? It is easy enough to buy or even make one with any of the links below.

Standard Wood Sandbox 

Little Dues Sandbox

Playhouse with Sandbox

Simple Homemade Sandbox

Covered Sandbox

Tire Sandbox

Once you have a sandbox, think about adding a fun Sand Digger to play with. There are a lot of kitchen items that are fun in the sandbox too. Add a colander, some plastic serving spoons, a funnel and plastic containers. This will lead to hours of fun!

What do your kids use in the sandbox?


Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.



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May 27th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Starting off Summer with a Bang

Memorial day is the official start of summer! For some of us, school is out and the temperatures are starting to get warm enough for water fun. Summer is about family, food, taking time to relax and enjoy outside activities. There have been some great summer posts here on the Garanimals Blog that tackle all sorts of summer fun. So, while you are relaxing this weekend and catching up on your reading, check out some of these posts.




Mom Things


Hope this list helps you to start your summer off with a bang!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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May 20th, 2013 at 8:12 am

Creating your Summer Fun List

As school comes to a close over the next few weeks depending where you live, its time to start thinking of your Summer Fun List! You may remember me making our last summer, and we are just starting to put ours together this year again! I wanted to inspire you with some ideas to on how to display your list and some ideas of things to put on your list by sharing some fun links.

Printable Summer Bucket List to Print

Summer Bucket List with extra ideas

Summer Bucket List Bingo with printable

Chevron Summer List

Summer List 

Sample Bucket List Inspiration

150 Summer Bucket List Activities

Summer Bucket List Chalkboard

Summer Fun Activity Calendar

Summertime Activities Bucket

Summer Bucket List sticks

Another great idea is just to fill a bucket with summer things to do – Water balloons, squirt guns and more!

This should beat some of the summer boredom.

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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July 26th, 2012 at 5:01 am

Books About Summer For Bilingual Kids

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already more than a month into summer. My family and I are about to take a much needed and deserved summer vacation to the beach and so my kids and I have been reading a bunch of books about fun summer activities in preparation.

Here are some of the books we’ve been reading:

La lagartija y el sol/The Lizard and the Sun by Alma Flor Ada — I love legends and this one tells the story of a little lizard who does everything she can to bring back light and warmth to ancient Mexico after the sun disappears.

What can you do with a paleta?/¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta? Carmen Tafolla  — First of all, what Latino child hasn’t had a paleta (or popsicle) in the summer? This is the story of all the things children can do with a paleta which introduces readers to a Latino neighborhood and all its beauty and colorfulness.

Clifford y el verano caluroso by Norman Bridwell — My kids love Clifford so this book about the Big Red Dog dying of heat and trying to figure out how to cool off is a hit!

Un día en la playa/A Day at the Beach (Dora la Exploradora) by Lauryn Silverhart — Although I’m not the biggest Dora the Explorer fan, my kids like her and I like that this book in particular is about the beach because we’re about to go spend a few days by the ocean. So reading this book has opened up a world of conversations about the beach, the water, the waves, the seashells, etc.

What are your children’s favorite books about summer? 

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.


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July 25th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Dog Days of Summer

Today’s forecast here in Chicago calls for a high of 93°F. According to one local meteorologist, we are on a record-pace for days in the 90s this summer. I make it habit to avoid complaining about the heat. In my mind, that would preclude me from complaining about the cold in February, and I would much rather complain about that.

But for most people, these are the “dog days” of summer. I know what the idiom means—the long, hot, sultry weeks between the beginning of July and the middle of August, but I’ve always wondered where the phrase came from. So, here’s the scoop.

The dog days of summer are actually named after Sirius, the Dog Star. During this time of year, Sirius (the brightest star in the sky), is very close to the sun. The ancient Romans and Egyptians believed that when Sirius and the sun were in conjunction, Sirius added its heat to the sun, causing the blistering hot days of summer (at least in the Northern hemisphere; in the southern hemisphere, the dog days of summer fall in January and February).

I’m not at all surprised that these are called the “dog days”, because when anything goes wrong in our house, my kids blame it on the dog.

To make it up to our poor maligned canine friends, you might like to know that July is also dog house repair month. So, take a little time and put a little elbow grease into fixing up your puppy’s palace.

And when you’re done, reward yourself with a frankfurter, because July also happens to be National Hog Dog month. You can find out anything you ever wanted to know about hot dogs (and then some) at Hot Dog City, sponsored by the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. This year’s winning slogan—”Hot Dogs: Relish the Moment.” We take our hot dogs very seriously here in the Windy City. This is how you eat a hot dog, Chicago style:

  • yellow mustard (as Chicago native Joe Montegna says, Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog)
  • two tomato wedges
  • pickle spear or slice
  • two sport peppers
  • “neon” green relish
  • fresh chopped onions
  • dash of celery salt
  • poppyseed bun

Enjoy the rest of your summer, even the dog days, and check back again in February, when we’ll talk about three dog nights.

Related Picture Books
One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews
Hot Diggity Dog: The History of the Hot Dog by Adrienne Sylver

Photo credit: Chicago hot dog by Jeremy Keith via a Creative Commons license.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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June 27th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Summer Animal Reading

As a writer with a particular passion for picture books, I often include a couple of reading suggestions at the bottom of my posts for you to share with your children. The long hot days of summer are perfect for reading together, and books about pets are a great way to prepare your family to bring an animal into your home (or to delay it a little longer by keeping your children distracted, if that’s your goal).

Fortunately, animals are a favorite topic among writers, and you’ll never run out of good stories. Here are a few of my favorites:

For the animal lover who is also an artist (at least at heart), try Art & Max by David Wiesner. Explore creativity through the eyes of a couple of amazing lizards. I love this book so much, I had to go back to make sure I hadn’t already recommended it to you.

Me … Jane by Patrick McDonnell is a wonderful introduction to the life, passions and diaries of renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall. We meet Jane when she was a small child, see how she fell in love with a little stuffed monkey and learned to love nature. It also includes bits and pieces from her childhood journals.

For pure fun and learning about color, check out Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin. Get ready to sing along.

If you’re looking for a read-aloud chapter book to get you through the summer, you won’t go wrong with Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux, a charming little mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea.

And finally one for mom. If you need a little pick-me-up, don’t miss Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter. Don’t forget the tissues.

Photo credit: Library Cat II by Pete Welsch via a Creative Commons licence.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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June 20th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Traveling with Pets by Car

It’s summer time and many families are ready to hit the road. If you plan to travel with your pet, new products and services are popping up all the time to make things easier.

Pet Friendly Finds

When traveling with pets, the Internet is definitely your friend. Many service sites, like  are now available to help you find pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, beaches, activities and other services while on the road. A simple search and you can find everything you need to know, including related fees and pet policies.

About those fees: be aware that many hotels that allow pets charge an additional fee to have them in your room with you. Fees can range anywhere from $10 per pet per night to $50 or more. That can be hefty increase in the advertised room rate, so be sure you know exactly how much they charge.

Plan Ahead

Traveling with pets, especially during the hot summer months, requires careful planning. The ASPCA recommends that you do several trial runs on shorter trips with your animal before you attempt a long-distance ride.

Never leave your pet in an unattended car. Even with the windows open, in hot weather the interior of a car can reach dangerously high temperatures in just a matter of minutes. If you plan to stop to eat, think about taking a picnic so your pet can take a break with you, or research pet-friendly restaurants along your route.

Be sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Your pet should always wear his collar and tags with contact information when traveling. Consider a microchip for your animal if you plan to travel often, just in case you get separated along the way.

Before You Leave

Have your pet eat a small meal several hours before you depart to help prevent carsickness. Your animal should have a safe way to ride with you in the car. An unrestrained pet can be hurt in an accident, and can be a distraction and danger to the driver. The ASPCA recommends a well-ventilated crate. There are also a wide variety of car restraints and barrier systems that keep animals in a safe part of the vehicle. Never let your pet ride in the front seat, as an airbag could be fatal.

On the Road

Bring water with you, but don’t have it available in the car. Take plenty of breaks to provide a drink, potty stops, and exercise. Bring a favorite toy or chew to keep your pet happy and occupied. Here are few more tips for your next pet road trip. Have fun!

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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