Thursday, July 24, 2014

Keep Cool with DIY Popsicles

We hope you are keeping cool this summer. Here is one way we have found to keep cool and have a healthy snack at the same time: Pour your leftover smoothie makings into posicle molds to be frozen overnight and served for snack the next day. The students love them! There are no extra sugars or foreign chemicals so you can feel good about giving them these frozen treats.
Our current favorite smoothie to make is Blueberries, Blackberries, almond milk and a little dallop of soy ice cream. It's a hit! Let your child be the designer of their food by making their own concoction from healthy options.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Molly's Trollys tour

Thanks to our friends at the the Carnegie Library we were able to venture out with our students on a Molly's Trolleys tour. It was a gorgeous day for sightseeing. We shared briefly about our tour on our Week Three post  from ALEC summer camp.

Our driver took us all around the city while our tour guide told us stories and little facts about the many landmarks that make up beautiful Pittsburgh.

We went to the Duquesne Incline first in the Mt. Washington neighborhood. This was most of our students first time to ride the incline so it was very exciting! Our tour guide, Ms. Debra, took our students down below the incline to watch all the big wheels and gears turn and show them how the little incline cars go up and down each time.

Ms. Debra shared many stories about various downtown buildings and the history behind them. A few that stuck out to our students was the underground 4th river that flows under Pittsburgh, and the story about the large stone lions outside of the banks that are believed to protect the banks.

Once we were off the incline, our students knew that we would shortly be making a special stop at Dream Cream ice cream shop in downtown, as we walked across the walkway over Carson street to our trolley ride, the students began chanting very excitedly "We're going to some ice cream! We're going to get some ice cream!" all the way across the foot bridge and into the trolley below. It was quite funny.

Chocolate was a favorite flavor by far during our Dream Cream visit. The students really enjoyed perusing the many flavors to pick from. Mr. Thomas is the "Chief Cone" at Dream Cream and he shared a little about what he does and what Dream Cream accomplishes as a business and members of the community. He asked the students at one point what they dreamed of doing/being some day. Makayla said she wanted to work in an ice cream shop, Mr. Thomas told her to come back in a couple years and he would have a job for her. Below is a great video sharing more about Dream Cream's mission.


The tour and visits were extremely fun and all of our students were very excited following the trip. We are so appreciative to our friends at Carnegie Library, our tour guide, our Molly's Trolleys driver and Dream Cream for making this day so fun and memorable. Thank you all!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Christmas in July at the Rowdy Buck

Join the Brashear Association for fun, food, and drink as we kick off our Holiday Helping Season! Admission is one new, unwrapped toy or a $10 donation. There will be free appetizers, cash bar, and lots of great raffle prizes donated by local South Side businesses. Go to our Facebook event for more details

We hope to see you there!


Summer Camp at ALEC: Week Four

Our last week at our ALEC summer camp was a blast. We certainly had a lot of fun.
On Monday we put our engineering skills to the test and made creative masterpieces with the blocks by making castles, courtyards, forts, and whatever we could think of. We started a large papier mache octopus that will be an ongoing project during the next few weeks and once finished will be displayed at ALEC.

On Tuesday Leah of the Brazen Kitchen came and showed our students how to make yummy vegetarian tacos. You can see more of the recipe and tutorial here. Miss Emily taught us about Italy and Roman mythology as well as a traditional Italian game. We designed our mythical gods, some of those made up gods included gods of love, markers, shark boy and lava girl.

On Wednesday Jeanne from the Knoxville Carnegie Library returned to talk about garbage. She read our students a clever book about a garbage barge that traveled all over and could not find a place to dump it's garbage. We conducted a few experiments on plastics afterward, attempting to poke a skewer through a balloon and made silly putty, we even picked the colors we wanted the silly putty to be.

Thursday was our last day of summer camp and we had a big party with great snacks, smoothies, guessing games and Bingo! Our students were very excited about this game, Bingo halls across Pittsburgh better watch out. We ended the day by watching Frozen which included quite a bit of singing and belting out "Let it Go" as loud and as theatrically possible. 

ALEC summer camp is now at a close and we are open for normal summer youth hours for drop in visitors. We appreciate everyone who has made our camp possible from our special guests to our friends at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to our supporters and donors. Thank you!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Taco Tuesday: Leah of the Brazen Kitchen Comes to ALEC

Everyone loves Taco Tuesday, we were lucky to have Leah of the Brazen Kitchen come and make vegetarian tacos with our students. 

Here's what you'll need to make your own tasty tacos at home:

1 1/2 c. peas in their pods, chopped. Most of our students had never tried raw peas, and they were pleasantly surprised that they were so good!
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. olive oil for the saute pans
Corn tortillas (Leah bought her's from Reyna's located in Pittsburgh's Strip District)

Heat up the oil in two saute pans, one for the vegetables and beans and one for the tortillas.  Then, add the the vegetarian mixture (peas, pods, red pepper and black beans) to one saute pan. Start to warm up a tortilla in the other pan.

Stir the vegetarian mixture until it's hot. When the vegetables are bright in color and the beans are heated through, the mixture is complete.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to warm up tortillas in the other pan, as many as you need.

The final step, enjoy your tacos! Leah brought fresh salsa and guacamole, also from Reyna's, which was delicious.  She also has an amazing recipe for "guacaboule" on her website if you want to make your own. Tacos are a messy food, and that's okay. Half the fun is trying to keep everything wrapped in the taco!

- Renee

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Camp at ALEC: Week Three

Week three of summer camp was filled with fun! On Monday, we made sock puppets with googly-eyes and eccentric outfits crafted from recycled fabrics. 

On Tuesday, our culture lesson was about Egypt. We identified Egypt on the map, and then we learned about the ancient art of mummification and hieroglyphics.  We had a mummy wrapping contest using toilet paper.  Hunter's team won for wrapping her up in the most "mummy-like" fashion. Students then took a hieroglyphic alphabet and drew out their names or messages.  Gage's message was "friendship".   

On Wednesday, Noreeen from the McGinnis Sisters was our guest. She made smoothies from bananas, blueberries, strawberries, Fage yogurt and almond milk. She was very accommodating with the smoothies and allowed the students to pick which ingredients they wanted to include or exclude. She also brought some extra fresh fruit to to take home. 

Jeanne and Sierra from the Knoxville library also came on Wednesday, and we learned all about detective work: how to follow clues and make fingerprints. We also read a clever book about mystery of Humpty Dumpty's fall. 

Thursday was a big day filled with activities, which was made possible by our friends at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Our students enjoyed a tour of Pittsburgh with Molly's Trolleys, a ride on the Duquesne Incline, ice cream from Dream Cream downtown, and then back to ALEC to greet the farmers from Common Ground who brought fresh produce to share.  Along with veggies from Common Ground, each student received their own cooking starter kit. They took home their own measuring cups, spoons, bowls and kitchen timers. We're excited to hear what they've been making at home.



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