Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Mesker Park Zoo

We have had a zoo membership since 2022 and it has been a lot of fun!

It's open year round and we enjoy going year round.  Some of our most fun trips have been in winter when we bundle up and stroll the zoo.

If you ever find yourself in Evansville, we love our little zoo.

The zoo is small-ish and hilly.

It's rarely crowded and about 20 minutes from our house.

We love the penguins, the playground, the turtles in the lake, the carousel, the otters, the red pandas, feeding the birds, the flower garden and going through Amazonia.

No zoo is perfect.  We wish we had cool animals like polar bears or pandas.  Or big cats, elephants or really exciting attractions, but we can always go visit a big zoo when we're in a big city.

Just avoid Boo at the Zoo.  You pay to trick or treat and you barely get to see any animals.  Live and learn!

Amazonia is the coolest buildling.  Very jungle like and lots of neat things to see.

Olive introduced us to axolotls and she's always excited to see them.

We splurged and paid to feed the penguins this trip.  It was fun, but really fast.  It's $5/person and you get one fish.  You drop it in the penguins mouth and you're done.  I'm glad the kids got to do it, but we probably wouldn't do it again.  They really love watching the penguins swim and dive.

You pay tokens for everything in the zoo so stock up at the token stations if you want to feed giraffes, ride the carousel, feed penguins or birds.  Don't make the mistake of waiting in line with cash because they won't accep it and your kids will be bummed.  Ask me how I know!?

Feeding the budgie birds was so cool.  It's $2/person and it was awesome.  We did it for the first time and we would definitely do this again.  The birds are hungry and friendly.  Everyone loved this activity.  Your $2 stick with birdseed on it actually lasts a long time.  And anything that brings your big kids this much joy is priceless.

We are still cracking up over Leo feeding the birds.

He grabbed his stick, held it up and yelled I WANT A BLUE ONE.  He thought you could just call our your bird order and a bird of your choosing would land on your stick.  It was HILARIOUS.  The birds did come see him once he stood still and quieted down.

It really was super cool to feed these budgie birds.

We can see lots and really enjoy ourselves in about 90 minutes.  We like to go first thing in the morning.  Of course you can stroll, pack a lunch and stay longer, but we go regularly and 90-2 hours is perfect for us.  I do still bring a stroller for Leo because the hills are so big.  He walks a lot of the time.  It's just nice to have a stroller for him to hop in when he needs a break from all that walking.  Spring is busy with field trips during the day, but the rest of the year the crowds are low.

Let me know if you have any zoo questions!

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Banana Brownies

Do you ever look at a recipe and just know that you'll love it?

I knew I'd love these Banana Brownies with a few changes.  And I always have ripe bananas ready to use.  I made these with the kids last week and they were DELICIOUS.  It was the easiest recipe that I almost always have ingredients on hand to make.

The original recipe added icing to the brownies, but they were totally delicious without anything on top.

Banana Brownies Recipe:

2 ripe bananas

1 stick salted butter

a sprinkle of salt

a sprinkle of cinnamon

1 t baking soda

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 t vanilla

1 c sour cream

2 eggs

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix everything until well combined.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. 

Bake at 350 for 25-230 minutes in a 9x13 pan.  Let cool and serve warm.  These were delicious warm and delicious the next day.  I'll be making these again very soon.

Make these ASAP!

Monday, July 15, 2024

Butterfly Gardens

We have really enjoyed making a butterfly buffet on our patio this year.  Buttefly watching has brought us so much joy this Summer.  We keep an eye out for butterflies all day long and have noticed a few flowers that they love.  They are so easy to grow in full sun and they bloom all summer long.

1. Lantana.  We have the pink/yellow and the red/orange variety on our patio this year and they attract butterflies all day long.  It also comes in a white/pink variety and a few others.  I have planted them in the ground and in pots and they thrive in the hot summer weather as long as they are watered daily.  I tried harvesting seeds from my lantana last year and planting this year, but didn't get great results this way and ended up buying lots of new plants.

2. Zinnias.  I planted zinnia seeds for the first time this Summer in pots and they are doing so well.  I'd love to plant more next year if I can harvest and dry seeds from my flowers this year.

What attracts butterflies to your yard??

If you need us, we'll be watching butterflies for the rest of the Summer.

Praying for our country and DJT!

Friday, July 12, 2024

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, Friends!  I hope you've had a great week.  We have been busy having fun and trying to squeeze in all the appointments before school starts.  Let me show you some highlights!

1. My friends came in town for the day!  They drove two hours south and we hit some of our favorite places to play and hang out.  It was so good to see them and our kids had fun playing.  We went to Dig N Roll and The Hills.

Leo strolled out of the "sand room" coated in their sand.

2.  Leo loves french fries more than almost anything else.

3. Turtle rescuers!  We've found several turtles in the neighborhood and the kids love it.  We usually hose them off, try to give them a snack and release them in our creek.  We hope to keep seeing them around.

4. Zoo Day!  I took the kids to our zoo and we had a really great time.  We did some new things and saw some cool animals up close.

4. UE Art Camp.  The kids went to the UE art camp for the third summer in a row.  They made some really cool art, loved eating in the college food court every day and had a good time with their friends.

5. We  rode the riding critters at the mall.  The kids love driving these crazy animals.

6. Snow Cones are always a good idea when it is HOT out.

7. Butterfly watching.  Our flowers are in full bloom and the butterflies are thrilled!!  We've seen some really pretty big butterflies.

8. We had a cool night so the boys did a bonfire.  They just love burning stuff and I supply the s'mores ingredients.

9. Topher recently turned 15 and he's gotten so much joy out of his bag of new cat toys.  I don't buy them very often so it was sweet to seem him acting like a playful kitten with his new toys.

10. Books!  We love to meet Kevin's mom at Barnes and Noble to pick out some new books.  The kids found some really great reading options for Summer and enjoyed lunch and ice cream at Jason's Deli.

11. Loose tooth invention.  Fletcher begged to shoot out his loose tooth with his Nerf Gun.  It worked.  He lost his tooth and then someone lost it in our family room.  I'm sure we'll find it one day, but he shot it so hard that the tooth went flying.

12. Watering flowers and making mom rainbows.

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Fresh Blackberry Cobbler

We had an extra large wild blackberry crop this year and it was so yummy!

We probably picked 6-8lbs of blackberries and the kids tried hard to eat as many.

We noticed that the berries were much sweeter and bigger this year thanks to the composting we've been doing near the blackberry bushes and we got a lot of rain this Spring and Summer.

We picked, washed, sorted and let them air dry inside.  We used lots in smoothies, ate plenty straight from the bowl, froze some and made this cobbler.

Blackberry mixture:
Get two cups of fresh berries, cover them in sugar, juice of half a lemon and let them sit for a few hours.  Stir from time to time and it'll make the yummiest syrupy blackberry mix.

Use your favorite cobbler base.  I always use this one from my mom:

1 stick of butter melted in a greased 9x13 pan

Cobbler base:
1 1/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
3/4 c milk
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 cup sugar

Pour cobbler mixture over melted butter.  Then pour your berry mixture evenly over the top.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Make a blackberry glaze while your cobbler is baking.  I used my blackberry bowl with remaining blackberry juice in it.  Added some confectioners sugar and a splash of milk.  It was such a pretty glaze.

Let it cool just a bit so your glaze won't melt away.

Once it's cool, let your kids drizzle on the icing.  Fletch always loves to help me in the kitchen.

This was best served warm with vanilla ice cream.  Next time I'll make the sugar and berry mixture in the moring allowing it to get extra juicy and then make the cobbler later on in the day.

This would be so good with any summer fruit!!