2011: Blog Stats in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,900 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Stephanie Lynn Craig Park

Stephanie Lynn Craig Park is closer to where we live than the last park I wrote about, it is on Russell near Nellis Road, right by Whitney Ranch Recreation Center.  I think it is our second most visited park, after Sunset Park.  Some ideas for stopping by: Go to the park and then zip up Nellis to visit Whitney Library for Storytime or visit the park and drive down Russell to hit the freeway and go for a shopping trip to Costco.

At any rate, there are big grassy areas, a swing set (though not a todder swing set), and a smaller slide that is perfect for R go down over and over.  I am not a fan of the busy road right next to it but there is a fence to keep kids in.

I hope these little tidbits about area parks are useful, I never would have thought about going to different parks if it had not been for the inspiration over at The Wish to Find Out: Henderson Parks Tour.  Do check the link out, I love the pictures of E’s friend A in front of all the different park signs.  It is a great idea to put a little variety into daily adventures, encourage more outside play, and find out which parks you prefer.

Reunion Trails Park

The other day a friend texted me to let me know that Reunion Trails Park had opened.  It is on 44 Chapata Drive in Henderson – if you’re familiar with the area it is near Stephanie and the 215.  It was a neat preview of the kind of equipment going into newer parks in town.  The brand of equipment (warning: the site has music that autoplays, the company is Kompan) is the same as in the newest area of Sunset Regional Park, but luckily there were areas appropriate for a wider range of ages.

I snapped a few pictures with my camera phone, I was very shocked to see electronic components featured, this particular one responded to the direction you pulled it with sounds and declarations of high scores.  I must be getting old.

The park will have a splashpad for the summer and I loved the tessellation theme in the design.  One thing that stood out from our visit was when R fell near a little boy (perhaps 7 years of age?) and I carried him away to comfort him, the young man came over and politely asked if R was okay.  I was impressed with his kindness.  It was a little chilly and windy the day we went but I think it is a great park and we’ll be back!

Food Find: Kirkland Organic Rice Milk

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Last week my husband was at Costco and he messaged me the above picture.  There was a new Organic Rice Milk on the shelf instead of Rice Dream (see Onespot Allergy’s post on the subject of Rice Dream being made on equipment shared with nuts)!

The ingredients looked good but there was no allergy statement.  I called Costco (it is a Kirkland branded item) and the helpful representative said since it was a fairly new product she’d get back to me about the facility that produces the milk.

Well, today she got back to me and guess what?  No nuts at the facility!  She said they did want me to know they do make soy milk there (and soy is an allergy we deal with) but the equipment is cleaned between runs.

I know each family has to weigh their risks but I am still excited to share the information.  Please always check & re-check labels of course.  A case of 12 unsweetened cartons, 4 cups each, will run you under $15.

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Updated 1/28/14 to add the following:

See my post (and the comments) about the current status of Kirkland’s Ricemilk.  Also, a commenter on this post provided pictures comparing Rice Dream and Kirkland’s Ricemilk and gave me permission to post them.  If nut cross contamination is not a concern for your family, you may want to consider Rice Dream as an option based on Mr. Wessel‘s experience documented by these photos:

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Clark County Museum

Earlier this month we made a little field trip to the Clark County Museum, it was fantastic!  What a great trip for little ones.  I had never been and the idea of “Heritage Holidays” appealed to me.  The museum had period decor peppered through the exhibits so it felt festive.  It is $2 for adults and $1 for children 3 and up and opens nice and early in the morning, perfect if you have early risers like I do.

There is a small indoor loop after you enter, taking you chronologically through the history of the area before it was settled through more modern Las Vegas.  I especially loved the old dresses on display.  Not that I’d wear something this particular shade but the lace is awesome!  I took these snaps with my phone which I’m glad of mainly because R and E wanted to look at everything and juggling a real camera and the monkeys would not have been a good idea, especially when we ventured to the outdoor exhibits (look at the fall foliage!  Note to self: December is the time to look for fall trees in Vegas).

There’s buildings that have been relocated to the museum site like old houses, train cars, and the like that you can walk through and explore among the outdoor area.  The walk is not long from place to place but it is a little bumpy so I think next time I’ll ditch the stroller.  My favorite area included the old homes (once we were able to tear E, R, and their friend A from the train car).  Most of the downtown houses today are converted into law offices and the like so it was especially neat to see how much (or little space) was sufficient for families as little as 50 years ago.  My friend, A’s mom, remarked that family sizes were larger and yet their homes were smaller.  Certainly food for thought in this consumer age.  Then again, putting kids in the attic may be what drove them to marry young and get places of their own!  Just kidding.

The girls asked if this fellow was real.  Some of the indoor staged areas were blocked by glass but many were ones you could explore fully.

This is the row of houses from a lovely gazebo at the end of the street.  I know lots of people come to the museum just to take family photos because it is picturesque.  I may have to do it myself.  We don’t have sidewalks in our neighborhood so I really liked letting the kids run along the street.  R really liked barging into houses and running up wheelchair ramps.  E loved seeing how people lived in “olden times.”  That phrase cracks me up when she says it, I told her once people used to write with feathers in “olden times” and it stuck with her.

You can’t not include a wedding chapel, I actually really liked the bride’s dress here, it reminded me a little of the lace on my own.  One of the guests was wearing a Santa hat, I’m not sure I’d want that in my wedding photos if I were Mr. and Mrs. Mannequin.

Though most of the houses had a Christmas theme to their decor, one had a Hanukkah spread.  Many of the homes had fake food laid out, lots of meat in the Christmas set ups so hooray for latkes in the Hanukkah table!

My favorite scene.  It felt so random that they set up a room this way but it was so sweet to see a father playing with a baby like this.  It really strikes home that our day to day is not all that different from those that came before when you really get down to it.

There is so much more than just the pictures I’ve included here.  We didn’t make it to the ghost town area or explore the outdoor nature walk.  We did eat lunch on the stage and the kids loved pretending to perform.  The leaf piles were also a big draw.  I travel with a lot of food when we have our “adventures” (as E calls them) because with food allergies there’s no eating out or fast food but the silver lining is that you’re always having a picnic.  It was a gorgeous day to spend with friends and we’ll certainly be back.

Vegan Allergen Free Lemon-Lime Square Photos

Cybele Pascal writes, in her Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook (Do you have it yet?  It is even on Kindle now but the paperback is still cheaper: amazon affiliate link), that “[t]his one is an ‘Uh-oh, if I don’t watch out, I’ll eat the whole pan!’ recipe.”  I have to agree.  This makes the daintiest but most flavorful little pieces of shortbread topped with a lemon lime filling.  You dust the whole concoction with powdered sugar (which, by the way, is hard to find without corn starch but Whole Foods sells one using tapioca starch instead, or I imagine you can make it yourself – I have been reading a lot about vegan sugar lately and I am not sure if the Whole Foods brand is vegan).

Now I know I’m no photographer, but I am pleased with how the morning sun shines through the filling on these, isn’t it so pretty?  The hard part is that you bake the crust for 15 minutes, top it with the filling (expertly whisked by my husband while I worked on the gingerbread boys simultaneously with the kids) and bake another 25 minutes but it is not ready at that point.  You have to take it out of the oven, let it cool, cover it, and refrigerate overnight.  By the way, the best tip ever re: powdered sugar is from a two year old (as of yesterday) entry on one of my favorite blogs, Parent Hacks: Use a tea infuser!

As I type this I was eating a square but then I looked down and it was gone so I can really see how you could eat the whole pan, it is worth the wait.  It also just tastes festive and I adore lemon and lime together or apart.  The filling really is like what you’d find in a lemon meringue or key lime pie.  So very good!  The kids are like me, they can taste lemons and go back for more, even while making sour faces.  These will totally be made again!

Allergen Free Gingerbread Boy Photos

My kids love gingerbread men, which is interesting considering they’d never eaten one.  I think they’re just cute. The funny thing is that E calls them “gingeyman” and the other day a friend came over to do some crafts and her son remarked upon a yard decoration of a gingerbread man by calling it a “ginger man!”  I am guessing this means we’re not as unique as we suppose sometimes.

So I have been meaning to make these out of Cybele Pascal’s Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook (amazon affiliate link) for a long time but they kind of seemed daunting to me.  Time to chill dough is not a good thing in my busy kitchen.  You can’t leave gluten free dough to chill too long so it is not a matter of preparing ahead, you have to make the time, in this case, 20 minutes.  I now have the ambition to try her roll out cookie recipe (by the way, the book has 100 recipes, which doesn’t seem like a lot until you are trying to make and photograph all the ones that are corn free!).

The kids loved the dough (hooray for vegan dough, right?) even though I had balked at 1 tablespoon of ginger once they baked up the flavors melded and it wasn’t too overpowering.  These came out with a cakey texture, reminding me of pumpkin cookies I’d had years back.  The kids loved them and enjoyed decorating them with Enjoy Life chocolate chips before they went into the oven.  They’re not my favorite treat if only because I prefer my ginger in ginger ale and green juice.  The house did smell wonderful, though, and the more of these I snack on the more I like them.  I baked some into squares and rectangles to try to build a gingerbread house, anyone have a favorite icing recipe for that purpose?