Monday, 30 July 2012

Tanzanian Meal

For Geography lessons we have been learning about Tanzania.  We have a trip coming up and are looking forward to our next adventure.  We have been learning quite a bit about the Serengeti, the animals of Africa, Swahili language and the customs of the Tanzanian people.  We often make a meal that represents the country we are studying and this was the menu we prepared last week.

We found most of the recipes in this book but you can also find them on the web
 Our menu choices for this meal were:
Ugali - which according the everything we read is a main staple for meals in most Tanzanian households
Mchicha Na Nyama - beef and spinach like stew
Maandazi - Tanzanian Donuts
Pilau rice
We wanted to fry Plantains but I couldn't find any in our local supermarkets.  So didn't have them with this meal but I am still looking for them and hope to try it out soon.

Kids helped with the meal prep

Our completed meal

Ugali is often used instead of spoons.  You scoop up a bit and use your finger to make a cup in the center of the ugali and scoop out the stew with it and eat with your fingers.   I am afraid my family resisted this process so it was forks and spoons for us:)!!!

Ugali I though was pretty tasteless on its own but mixed with the stew was fine.  Kids didn't like it at all.  Beef and Spinach stew was good, and the kids even asked for seconds and thirds:)  Kids even liked the Pilau rice.

Frying Tanzanian Donuts

Finished donuts and they went down well with the family
I am still looking for a Tanzanian craft to do which will then wrap up our study just before we head out on our safari adventure.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Fossil Hunt

Our family went on a fossil dig with a local fossil expert.  The kids and I had been taking classes with Jamie earlier this spring.  We had to temporarily stop unexpectedly while Jamie looked for a new place to hold his fossil shop.  We hope to resume classes as soon as his new shop opens up in a month or so:)  The kids really enjoyed his classes.
Kings Dyke Quarry.  This rock is a glacial erratic rock which means it it geologically doesn't belong in this region but was carried here from Scotland during the Ice Age by the glaciers that covered Britain. 

Jamie pointing out the Quarry

Short hike from the car park to the fossil area

Types of fossils and creatures known to lived here
Our guide paperwork to help identify fossils. 

Little Man pointing out a fossil in the clay

A boy and his tool


Little man trying to break a rock

Princess found something!

Little Man still banging on rocks:)  this one was fossilized wood

More Ammonites this one with pieces of the shell visible

Princess examining the shale

Family spread out and looking for fossils.  As a family we found belemnites, ammonites, fish scales fossils and calcite crystals.

Other people found Pleisosaur teeth, fish bones, and crocodile bone...I so wanted to find a tooth but had no luck..I felt slightly better when Jamie the guide said it took him two years to find his first tooth...mind you he was a teenager when he found it:)

Now Daddy is splitting rocks that Little Man brings to him

Some of our finds:)  We actually came home with several bags of fossils -- hint for future expeditions, keep in mind that you have to carry out of the quarry what you find and are determined to take home... our kids wouldn't leave any fossil behind that they found which meant Mom and Dad had to carry the bags it back to the car, uphill...whew!

Family portrait with Jamie who says he has contacts in the States and when we go back can set us up with some behind the scenes adventures in Fossil areas near our home in the states.  We will be taking him up on that and we invited him to come stay with us when he needs to dig in our local home in the states. 

My fossil hunters:)
We had a lovely time, and since this was the first sunny day we have had in our area in ages it was absolutely wonderful being outdoors, enjoying the weather and the task at hand.  I am going to set up something with Jamie for a future scout or home ed trip.  We had so much fun we want to go back again.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Home made Reflector Oven

This past week, at my son's Boy Scout meeting, we got to see how a homemade Reflector oven works!  The leader was given this oven by someone and told how to use it for the meeting.  I have heard of this but have never seen on so I was fascinated with it.   We plan on making our own either on our own or with friends. 

First take a box that has a lid and cover the inside of the lid completely with  aluminum foil.  Use Duct tape or Electrical tape...scotch tape or masking tape will melt. 

cover the inside  with foil and support sides with aluminum tins this addition will support a shelf

Use kebab skewers to make the shelf in the side punching a hole thru the box and tin pans, this one used 4 metal skewers to hold the shelf, number of skewers would depend on the size of the box.  Add a oven thermometer

Place a smaller tin tray on the bottom shelf and add hot coals. This is important do not place hot coals on the bottom of the box with just foil, as it will get too hot!  Close lid and allow the box to heat up.  We did have to prop the BBQ tongs  up against the lid to get it to shut properly Within 10 minutes the inside box temperature had a reading of 350 degrees!

Place item on shelf you wish to cook.  We had the kids make chocolate chip cookies. 

See the red hot coals and at one point the thermometer read 400 degrees inside.  I was told that you should estimate each chuck of coal adds 40 degrees so we had about 9 charcoal pieces inside
The cookies are starting to bake.  Took about 20 minutes it probably could have been less time if the adults would have stopped opening the box repeatedly to check the coals and take pictures:)  guilty as charged;)
Oh and remember to have oven mitts as the tray is really HOT!!!!

Cookies -- the adults did question whether the cookies would have a smoky taste but in all honesty it was barely noticeable.

Kids enjoyed the cookies and had no complaints. So it was a success

What a great way to spend a raining evening making cookies outside in a Reflector oven.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Girl Scout Fishing trip

It wasn't too long ago that I blogged about my son's boy scout fishing trip.  I wasn't able to go with him on that trip, as my daughter and I had the stomach bug, so my husband was responsible to take photos for my blog:) and for our personal records.  After hearing how much fun they had, I asked my daughter's girl scout troop if they would like to go fishing.  The girls loved the idea and I once again contacted our local fishing club and asked for a session for the girls.   Again the fishing coaches were absolutely wonderful and so patient with the girls. 

Being girls it took a lot more coaxing for them to handle the bait, the fish and the hook, but after some positive encouragement and a bit of bribery , as I told them they couldn't get their fishing fun badge unless they did all of the above at least 3 times!  Aren't I mean! By the end of the session all the girls were handling the fish and the bait like pros.  I was so proud of them overcoming their girly squeamishness:).  I say this while I didn't touch a fish or a maggot the entire time there...none of the girls noticed:)!  I am sneaky too;)!

Learning about the types of fish in the man made lake

Red maggots, when I saw pictures of this last time I thought they must be special type maggot as the only maggots I have ever seen are white in color.  However, this time I was there and asked what made the maggots red.  I was told that the maggots were colored red so the fish could see them more easily:)  So I guess this means fish see in color?  Also I was told the coloring gives off a slight smell that attracts the fish to the hook.  I was assured this was safe for the girls to handle as years ago this procedure caused cancer according to the fishing guide.

Most of the fish we caught were Rudd and small were pretty small:)  But the girls didn't seem to notice the size at all

Princess was the first to get over her squeamishness and handled the fish easily and after removing the hook, she gave each fish an extra maggot  in their mouth before tossing them in the lake...soon several other girls were following suit:)

A fish that almost got away

Giving the fish an extra maggot because and I quote "they have been thru so much, Mom"

Using a degorger to remove the hook that the fish swallowed.  Quite a nifty little tool.

The biggest fish caught of the day

All the girls had fun and there were plenty of fish caught.  Each girl caught a dozen or more fish.  I might have to arrange a home school trip next as this was so much fun.  My kids loved it and both want to fish again.  I promise to spare you another post on Fishing:)!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Wool Festival

England has been having some amazing weather, actually we are still waiting for spring to arrive:)  This past weekend we were to participate in the Festival of History at Kelmarsh manor, but due to torrential down pours the river overtook the bank and the whole festival was a complete washout.  So I found myself in a unique position of having nothing to do this past weekend.  Luckily a facebook friend informed me of a Wool Festival happening in the next county and it was going to happen rain or shine.  So the kids and I hopped in the car and went to see what happens at a Wool Festival.

While today it was sunny, the ground was still drenched from yesterday's rain and the field was a muddy mess.  But this being England you just put on your Wellies and solider on:)

Lots of demonstrations to be seen and wool in every color imaginable displayed.  Lots of wool crafts, some I hadn't heard of before.

Children tried their hand at felting

Making pencil wool covers with felt...Felting crafts are popular in the UK and this is the first time we tried it.

Princess trying her hand at spinning

Rag rugs...I haven't seen this before but Princess loved working on it.  I had to pull her away from it.  Looks like it would be easy to replicate so we are going to find the material and see if we can do this at home:)

Just one of the many completed rag rugs done by a local artisan.

There was a booth were people could help put together handmade woolen pillow that are going to be given to any athletic who asks for one
My two helped to stuff a couple of pillows for the cause

Then tags were added with special messages from the public to the athlete

The completed pillows

A poster of some of the athletes who have already received their pillows

I thought this pillow was so cute, made by residents of a local nursing home

Of course you can't go to a wool festival without seeing sheep:)

Watched a sheep shearing demonstration using modern tools

I was amazed how docile the sheep were during this process

what the sheep's wool looks like once removed from the sheep

Demonstration of the old shears used

We had a great outing!  If you would like a better view of the sheep shearing, take a look at this video it is amazing!