Sorbet Floats--Summer Celebrations or Perfect Drinks for a Frozen Party

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We are in the middle of Labor Day weekend here in the United States. It is the unofficial end to summer. Hazel starts school this week and she is not happy about it. To celebrate summer, say an end or just for fun, we made some sorbet floats. Now this idea started when we were out to dinner with my parents at the Rock Harbor Grill. We looked at the dessert menu after dinner even though none of us could eat another bite and I saw a blueberry sorbet IBC cream soda float. I was tempted, but then noticed all desserts were $8 and figured we could make it cheaper at home. I bought a six pack of IBC cream soda and then searched for blueberry sorbet. I finally found some in one of those serve yourself frozen yogurt places. We bought a small cup of it and made the floats.

Now since this was a summer celebration we used our umbrella straws. I could totally see Olaf drinking this in his dream of summer. Since we did not have much sorbet, we only needed one bottle of soda for the two drinks. Hazel loved it! (Now she has yet to like any of the drinks with bubbles in it previously.)
I finally got her to take the straw out of her mouth and told her to smile to show she liked it, but the smile didn't quite happen.
Now one of the best things of these floats is it is made with sorbet which is dairy free so Hazel can have them without worry of the dairy issues! We had some raspberry sorbet in the freezer, so we tried that the next day. We put in a lot of sorbet the first time we made them and not quite as much so it could have a chance to melt. We talked about the sorbet being like frozen hearts from Disney's Frozen. So we decided this would be a fun punch to make for her Frozen party. 

Hazel has been asking for these every night now. We are not quite as fancy as the first ones. Needless to say we love them. 

My favorite is when the sorbet is really starting to melt and you can taste the fruit mixed well with the soda. So that is our summer celebration/Disney Frozen inspired drinks. Goodbye, summer!! We will miss you!!

For more Frozen inspired things check out:

Sharing Saturday 13-35

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Sharing Saturday Button

Thank you to everyone who shared with us last week!! And a very special thank you to all the people who took the time to check out some of the amazing ideas shared!! With Hazel starting school next week, I am finally starting to think about back to school. Since we are one of the later schools to start I have seen lots of ideas on-line including at last week's party. Our features will be about back to school, fall, some favorites and we had a most clicked from Gift of Curiosity: Apple Printable Pack.

Back To School Help

1) From Planet Smarty Pants: Questions for the New School Year

2) From Sunshine and Hurricanes: Armed and Ready to Make Lunch

3) From Krafts and Kiddos: Simple Ways to Make Back to School Easy

4) From Willamette Valley Wonder Woman: Back To School Free Printable Lunch Notes

Back To School Crafts

1) From Enchanted Homeschooling Mom: Back To School Wreath

2) From Stella123: Back To School Pinwheel Pencils

After School Snacks and Activity

1) From Schooling a Monkey: Healthy Snack Idea: Apple Chips Recipe

2) From There's Just One Mommy: 12 After School Snack Ideas

3) From Kandy Kreations: Fun Family Tradition with Cookie Friday

Some Art/Lesson Favorites

1) From Toddlers Through Preschool: Observing Trees

2) From An Idea on Tuesday: Painting Without a Brush

3) From Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds: Fall Watercolor Art

Thank you to everyone who shared last week!! I hope you will join us and share again!! If you are featured here, please feel free to grab a featured button to display proudly on your blog. 


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This week we continued our exploration of Japan with a look at the language, we reviewed the newest Octonauts DVD and are giving away a copy!, we made a doll checkers game for free, we made some Olaf mugs for party favors for Hazel's Frozen party, we learned about Saudi Arabia by cooking Al Kabsa for Around the World in 12 Dishes.

Now for This Week's Party 

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Around the World in 12 Dishes: Al Kabsa - Traditional Saudi Rice and Chicken

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This month we are exploring Saudi Arabia. Since Hazel does not watch or hear news if we can help it, she does not know much about Saudi Arabia. There also was not much out there for her age on Saudi Arabia. We found a few picture books that were more on Islam. Since Islam's birthplace is in Saudi Arabia, I guess it is appropriate. I found a coloring page on
For a bit more on Saudi Arabia, you can check out my post on the Around the World in 12 Dishes blog.

We found recipes on-line since none of the books we looked at had any. We decided to try Al Kabsa which is a traditional Saudi rice and chicken. We found the recipe on All Recipes. I have seen Hazel grow and develop in the kitchen over the past year. It is amazing to see what she can do now.

Al Kabsa adapted from All Recipes
Kabsa Spice Mix:
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried whole lime powder or lime zest (we could not find dried whole lime powder)

1/4 cup butter
1 onion finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic
3 pounds of bone-in chicken cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup tomato puree
Hazel zesting the lime
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 package shredded carrots
2 whole cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch ground corriander
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 1/4 cups hot water
1 chicken bouillon packet
2 1/4 cups unrinsed basmati rice (we used brown basmati rice and it took much longer!!)
1/4 cup of raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds

1) Mix together the Kabsa Spice Mix in a small bowl and set aside.
Hazel adding tomato puree

2) Melt the butter in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onion. Cook and stir until the onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes. 

3) Add the chicken, and brown them over medium high heat until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. 

4) Mix in the tomato puree, canned tomatoes, carrots, and all spices (including mix from step 1). Cook for about 3 minutes.
Stirring Mixture
Adding Water & Bouillon

5) Pour in the water and chicken bouillon (we mixed them together first since we use a no salt packet and not a cube). 
Waiting for it to boil

6) Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer until the chicken is no longer pink, about 30 minutes.

7) Gently stir in the rice. Cover the pot and simmer until rice is tender and almost dry, about 25 minutes for white rice and 35 for brown.
Hazel Adding Rice

8) Add the raisins and more hot water if necessary (ours definitely did not need any more water). Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until rice is dry.

9) Transfer the rice to a large serving platter and arrange chicken pieces on top. Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the dish. Enjoy!

I enjoyed it and Hazel liked the chicken but thought the rice was too spicy. Steve thought it was ok, but really didn't want it again.


For books we read:

  •  Hajj Stories by Anita Ganeri which shares the story of the traditional Hajj, journey to Mecca for Muslims.
  • Ramadan Moon by Na'ima B. Robert and Shiria Adi which shares how Ramadan is determined by the moon and what Ramadan is.
  • We also have our Fairy Tales in Different Cultures from the past which include: The Golden Slipper, The Persian Cinderella, Cinderella: An Islamic Tale, Snow White: An Islamic Tale. We are looking forward to the Sleeping Beauty: An Islamic Tale coming out in February!!

That is our exploration of Saudi Arabia. Around the World in 12 Dishes is hosted by these lovely blogs:

Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids' Makings, The Mommy Talks and The Usual Mayhem
I hope you will take the time to check them all out and check out everyone's great explorations of Saudi Arabia. If you have a Saudi dish or craft or lesson, please share it here as well!! The Saudi placemat and passport pages are coming soon for help with extra learning about the country.

DIY Doll Checkers Game & Clipboard

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We needed to go to Home Depot to get air conditioner filters. We have a friend from church who works at Home Depot so Hazel and I always take Steve's list to him and he helps us find everything Steve needs so Steve doesn't have to deal with Home Depot on a weekend. Hazel also loves to go visit our friend. I remembered seeing this pin for a doll clipboard and mistakenly thought it was sample floor tile, so we got two of those while we were there. Now the floor samples are square and did not make the perfect clipboard (I may go back for the counter sample).
While driving home Hazel commented how the square tile would make a good checkers board. She had fallen in love with the one at the American Girl Doll Store that came with the Fun and Games Table for $58.  We were able to make one for free! We got a wood floor sample from Home Depot and used a printed checker board (which I will provide as a download), Mod Podge glue, red and black foam sheets and a hole punch. You could also use a 4"x4" square of cardboard instead of the floor sample.

At first I made a typical black and white checker board, but Hazel wanted a red and black one, so I made another print out and covered the black and white one. For my printable, I offer both in case you have a preference or your doll does. All I did was cut the checkerboard out and use the Mod Podge glue to stick it to the wood sample and then put a thin coat of the glue over it. I used a glossy finish because it is what I had.

Now I was going to buy buttons to be the checkers, and I stopped at Joann Fabrics yesterday to see what they had for button sizes. I didn't buy any since I wanted to figure out the size of the squares first. Then last night I was trying to think about what else we could use for buttons and I was thinking of cutting them out of paper, but that would be too thin and I thought of foam. I went to our foam supply and got a regular hole punch (I was wishing I had a slightly bigger one) and punched twelve checkers from a red sheet and a black sheet. Sorry with the lighting the black ones are hard to see on the black squares.

Finally Hazel's dolls were ready to play a game. Hazel invited Mimi over for a game.
Hazel is getting ready to make the first move.
So instead of $58 to get a checkers game we made one for free! I thought about doing a box, but decided since the board cannot fold, not to bother. 

For more DIY doll ideas check out:

Olaf Mugs for Frozen Party

Hazel has decided her birthday party will be a Frozen theme this year. I saw in a few places making easy Olaf mugs and t-shirts. While pulling out some supplies for our mermaid play date, I found some white mugs I had bought for Hazel's Tea for 2 Birthday Party. We had left out paints for the older kids to decorate them. We only had one taker so I have six left over. Although painting and drawing are not my strong points, I thought I would give it a try. Olaf's face is rather easy. I pulled out my paint markers: black, white, brown, orange and blue.
I started with his mouth outline and then drew the spot for the teeth (which I later enlarged with the white marker). Then I drew the eyes and hairs and finally the carrot for a nose. 
Then on the back I wrote: "I like warm hugs."
The first one I did I thought the mouth was too big, but I actually liked that one better in the end. Our plan is to have a hot chocolate bar with the mugs and then have the kids take the mug home as the favor.
For more Frozen ideas check out:

The Ocotonauts: Deep Sea Mission DVD Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: NCircle Entertainment gave me a copy of the DVD free of charge and is supplying the one for the giveaway free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation.

Today I get to review a wonderful Octonauts DVD. The Octonauts is among one of Hazel's favorite shows. She recently told me she wants to be a scientist who studies animals when she grows up. (Of course her idea of what she wants to be changes all the time at this age.) She loves any show that helps her learn about animals. The Octonauts is one of them. It amazes me the information she retains from the show. Every once in awhile she will come out with one of the animal facts. I love it!

The DVD we are reviewing today is The Octonauts: Deep Sea Mission. Its official release date is September 2nd, however there was an early release on August 5th through Walmart and Sam's Club. If you follow the link you will be taken there. Of course you can pre-order the DVD and find all the other Octonauts DVDs and other great DVDs at NCircle Entertainment's website.

Now as I mentioned Octonauts are one of Hazel's favorites. She loves learning about the animals and the six episodes on this DVD are wonderful. They explore the Midnight Zone and the creatures that live in the deepest part of the water. I love the fact that Hazel knows about the Midnight Zone and knows some animals. I'll admit every once in awhile I google one of the creatures just to make sure they are actual creatures and not just made up, because I have not heard of them. (I recently googled spookfish from one of the episodes on this DVD. The images on Google are great, but none that I can legally use here, so you will have to Google it yourself.)
Disney Junior has some of the creatures from Octonauts available as color sheets and creature information cards. They have not kept up with all of their seasons though. Above is the one of the spookfish. Hazel had fun coloring it. 

Another part of watching all the Octonauts episodes and DVDs that I love is that Hazel wants to explore more sea creatures. Our public library recently had a program with The Whale Mobile. This is a group of people who come to a location with a life size model of a real humpback whale that has been seen off the coast of Massachusetts and you can go inside the model and see the size of things like the heart, lungs, stomach and ribs. It is so neat. They teach a bit about whales. It was really interesting. To give you an idea of the whale here is a picture of Hazel next to its head.
I love this DVD and all the Octonauts DVDs for the lessons they teach Hazel and how they get her so curious about the sea. Yes, our dinner conversations are sometimes about which is the largest creature in the sea. And yes, Steve and I are learning from watching them with her. And we actually enjoy the shows unlike some children's shows. 

Now I get to offer you a chance to win this amazing DVD. Follow the Rafflecopter and enter to win! Winners must live in the USA or Canada and be 18 and over and follow the rest of my Giveaway Rules. Good luck!!

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For more on The Octonauts check out:

Learning some Japanese -- Book Reviews

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of these products free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

As I explained last Monday, we have begun to explore Japan with some fun books from Tuttle Publishing. They sent us some beautiful books and a set of flashcards. Today we are going to look at the ones that help teach a little of the Japanese language. Last week I reviewed My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown. This book starts to introduce a small amount about the language and really helps teach something about the culture in Japan.

This week I am going to begin with Japanese For Kids Flash Cards by Timothy G. Stout.

In this box of flash cards, you get 64 double-sided flash cards, an audio CD, a wall chart and a learning guide. Each flash card has the Japanese word written in Japanese and then the pronunciation of the Japanese word (called Komaji) and a picture of what the word means on one side. On the other side is a table with the Japanese, Komaji and English then two sentences in all three as well as a black and white copy of the picture. The 64 cards are separated into word groups: Family, Colors, Numbers, Clothes, Animals, Food, Body Parts, and My Day. The learning guide suggests working with only one group at a time to make it more manageable. 

The audio CD begins with sixteen basic words and sayings that do not lend to pictures (for examples: yes, no, hello, goodbye) which are spoken slowly in Japanese and then at a regular speed and then in English and then has four songs in Japanese. Then it goes through each flash card saying the word in Japanese slowly, then at regular speed, then in English, then reading the sentences on the back side of the card in Japanese and English. I love that Hazel gets to hear the word how it is suppose to be pronounced and not just my interpretation of it. The learning guide also has games and activities to try in Japanese to help learn some of the words in a different way and the words to the four songs in Japanese and English. We decided to focus on numbers for awhile because the next book started with numbers as well.

Did you know there are three different writing systems in Japanese? There is Kanji which is the writing system that came to Japan from China in the 6th century; Hiragana is a script women in Japan developed 1,000 years ago; and Katakana is the set of characters to represent foreign words and names. Kanji has 2,500 different characters to know. Japanese children learn these starting in elementary school and continue through high school. Hiragana has 46 different characters and sounds. Japanese children learn all of the Hiragana characters in first grade. Katakana has 46 characters to match the 46 sounds of spoken Japanese and all are learned in first grade. Japanese children also learn Romaji which is the 26 letters of the English alphabet. (Source: All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Williamare Moore--a review of this one coming soon!)

Our second book for today is My First Japanese Kanji Book: Learning Kanji the fun and easy way! by Anna Sato and Eriko Sato. This book helps children learn how to write Kanji. Usually Kanji is learned after Hiragana and Katakana are already mastered. We however began with it. This book has 36 lessons. Each lesson includes a poem in Japanese and English and then lessons on some of the words from the poem. The first lesson teaches you to write the words for one, two and three. 

Each character has a certain order to how it is to be written and it is said that teachers can tell when you do not do it in the correct order. Hazel and I began trying some out first with just regular colored pencils and I realized we were not getting the thickness of the lines correctly so I pulled out some calligraphy pens. Hazel loved this activity!! She wanted to do some more while I started making dinner.
Hazel's Kanji Trials

This book comes with an MP3 Audio CD. Each lesson is on the CD with the poem read in Japanese and English. Again I love that Hazel gets to hear the correct pronunciation. (Spoken languages have never been my strong point even if I was in Honors Spanish classes throughout middle and high schools.) I also showed her how to listen to the poems on her own if she wants to try some while I am busy. This really excited her. She actually asked if we could try some lessons every day. 

My Kanji Trials
The book provides a place to practice each character, but we decided to do them on separate paper. I often donate the books eventually to our public library or Hazel's school library, so I didn't want to mess them up and it gave us both a place to work without being in the others way. 

I have to say all three of these products are a wonderful introduction to the Japanese language. Each provides a different way of learning a bit about the culture and all are of the highest quality and are beautiful. 

For more books and activities to learn about Japan check out:
Also check out some of our other reviews of Tuttle Publishing Books: