Things to Do - ThinkFun's Compose Yourself GIVEAWAY!!

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As frequent blog readers probably already know, we're big fans of ThinkFun's educational games and activities. But lately we're especially big fans of their new Compose Yourself music cards. The thick plastic transparent cards each have a set of musical notes on them. You then go online and enter a series of cards to make a song or melody. Flip them. Reverse them. Repeat them. It's shockingly fun.

And this has become our go-to downtime activity this summer. Whenever the kids say, "I'm bored." I reply, "then go make a song." And they do. Over and over again. Even I can't stop fiddling with them. If you listen carefully you start to understand how music and notes work (I never learned to read music, so I'm a somewhat fascinated by this).

The super easy computer interface makes parental involvement optional, so this is the perfect summer activity for children when you need some time by yourself (perhaps a nap?). I can't say enough good things.

Think Fun has offered to giveaway one set of Compose Yourself cards to a No Monsters reader (US addresses only). To enter, just comment on this post. Please include your email address in the body of the message (so I can find you). This giveaway will close in one week at 10 pm on August 10th.



Things to Do - Grateful List (June 2015)

class (12 of 14)

* Reading Displacement (graphic novel)
* Reading Girl in a Band: A Memoir
* Rewatching Before Sunset (and crying)
* Watching Ex Machina at the Cinema Drafthouse
* Watching Inside Out
* Watching Nightcrawler (Netflix streaming)
* Attending Book of Mormom at the Kennedy Center

* Peach rum and ginger beer (this is my drink of the summer)
* The girls making fried apples all the time (which was so cute, until it became SO ANNOYING)
* The salads in Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & beyond

* Chaperoning the 3rd grade field trip to the National Mall's monuments (when the kids were little, it would take HOURS to walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument and now it takes a few minutes)
* Camping in Senecca Rocks, WV and touring Smoke Hole Caverns
* Watching the Women's World Cup at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse (go USA!!!)
* Medieval Times for T's birthday
* Another great summer at the apartment pool
* The Museum of Crime and Punishment with Allegra and the girls (T has been asking to go here all year)
* Bull Run's Ice Cream family mud run with the kids (so much fun, even in the rain; well, mostly)
* A 75 degree day hiking/ playing in the stream at Potomac Overlook Park and seeing deer under the overpass(Arlington, VA)

* A week of happy hours and parties
* Sunday morning family dance parties to Bizarre Inc. ("Why waste your time, you know you're gonna be mine")
* T's kindergarten good citizenship award; straight As for F
* Fireflies in our front yard
* Our second annual close-down-the-block summer solstice party
* The beginning of summer and lazy mornings without TV
* P's 8th birthday pool party sleepover (even though she turned 8 in November)
* After the thunderstorm, a bright orange red sky


F - camping, Minions, books, Garfield comic books, clean water, my family, a nice house to live in and food to eat, that everything's so great

P - camping with our friends, early release, my soccer party, my half-birthday party, T's birthday, my family

T - my knife, that we went to the beach, that we went camping, my new toy gun, my birthday, my other new toy gun, Medievil Times, my new light up sword, knights fighting, watching the World Cup, USA winning


Things to Make - Roasted Peaches and Cream Popsicles


I'm still on my popsicle making kick, they're just so easy and so good. I wanted to hide these from the children, so I could eat them all myself. But luckily I'm nicer than that (well, sometimes).

ROASTED PEACHES & CREAM POPSICLES (slightly based off of a recipe in People's Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn's Coolest Pop Shop, love this cookbook).

* 4-5 tennis-ball sized peaches, halved
* 2/3 cup cane sugar
* 2/3 cup water
* 1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the peaches cut side down on a cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes (until the skins and flesh have softened)
2. Discard the peach pits and blend the peaches.
3. Make simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then let cool. Add 1 cup of the cooled syrup to the peach puree.
4. Pour the puree into popsicle molds until they're about 2/3 full.
5. Pour the cream on top of the puree. Don't worry if you don't use it all.
6. Use the popsicle stick to stir the cream into the popsicles.
7. Freeze.

(Makes approximately 10 popsicles)

Still hungry? Click here and scroll down for more popsicle recipes.


Things to Do - Take One Sh**** Picture a Day (June 2015)

It's amazing how many perfect moments you capture when you forget about perfection for awhile.

I know this project is still new, but for now, I'm still a little in awe at how accurately it captures our life. I managed to include one shot from every day but June 4th (apparently I just couldn't be bothered with the camera on this random Thursday).



Things to Watch - 7 Great TV Dramas on Netflix Streaming

Last month I posted about comedies (click here for the post), so now it's time to get serious.

1. Bloodline - "We're not bad people, but we did a bad thing." Most addictive show ever. I could not stop watching.

2. Mad Men - No real description is needed, as everyone has heard of Mad Men by now. Worth watching for the costumes and scenic design alone. And for Roger Sterling, possibly the best TV character ever.

3. Breaking Bad - Dan found this whole show addictive, but I thought it a little too depressing to binge watch. Still who doesn't love a show where Mr. Chips turns into Scarface?

4. The Honorable Woman - This suspenseful mini-series concentrates on Israeli/Pakistan relations. Kidnappings. Abductions. So much intrigue.

5. House of Cards - Politicians are so evil. But fun to watch.

6. The Walking Dead - Personally, I'm sick of thinking about/hearing about/imagining the apocalypse. So I've never learned to love the Walking Dead, but many good friends (including Dan) insist that it's one of the best shows on TV, so I'm including the Walking Dead on this list.

7. The UP series - Last but DEFINITELY not least, this documentary series follows the lives of fourteen British citizens over a 49 year period, as they age from 7 to 56 years old. The first episode (filmed in 1964) is a little painful to watch - awful sound quality, bad editing, no thoughts as to cinematography. But over time I became somewhat obsessed with the lives of these strangers.



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