Remember the Marshmallow?

Some months ago I posted the beautiful little thing that is a single marshmallow roasted over your gas stove burner, resulting in 25 sticky, gooey calories of pure deliciousness.

Last month we were at the ginormous behemoth of fresh grocery retail, Stew Leonards, where we came across this magnificent thing.

You can't tell from the photo how big these marshmallows are, but here's a blog post that shows a "giant roaster" next to your garden-variety regular specimen.

Now, my post was supposed to be about how Mr Apparently roasted one of these beauties last week and it was one of the most incredible things I've ever eaten. The extra mass means more of those delicious melty internal sugars. At 90 calories this is more of an actual dessert commitment than a guilt-free snack, but since it's about all one needs to eat post-dinner for an entire evening, it seemed completely worth it.

But tonight I had another one, and I've felt ill ever since. Clearly these supersized sugar bombs should not be eaten straight, but rather tempered with some chocolate and graham crackers.

A Rainy Day Project: Felt Butterfly

munchie prep

Another rainy day in the Northeast. Apparently Jr's latest issue of Your Big Backyard arrived yesterday, and it features both a story about a little caterpillar named Munchie and a craft project about the caterpillar-to-butterfly process. The cruel irony of my parenting life is that little Apparently isn't very interested in art projects, but I can occasionally drum up some enthusiasm if the art is secondary to a greater theme of space, insects or dinosaurs.

munchie

You may not be surprised to learn that I have a drawer full of felt, and so when he said, "Let's make Munchie!" I leapt at the opportunity.

This was a super-fast project, and it would have taken even less time if we'd used glue. But we found that glue seeped through the felt and was generally messy and gross. (Also, we have no hot water today thanks to some boiler repair, and so minimal clean-up was not such a bad idea.)

munchie

We agreed to glue only the googly eyes and sew the rest on the sewing machine. (Apparently Jr and I have an agreement at the sewing machine; he gets to press the reverse button.) Using thread rather than adhesive made the toy stronger, and we were able to play with it sooner.

munchie

Completed just an hour ago, this little guy has emerged from his chrysalis at least seven times and an entire play has been performed in his honor. I need more science-based art projects, as they keep us both very happy!

chrysalis

You can download the instructions and templates from the National Wildlife Federation's website. Let me know if you make one, too!

On Metamorphosis

The title of this post does not indicate that a deeply meaningful treatise on change will follow. It means that we actually grew some butterflies. In our apartment. In a cup. No kidding.

Apparently Jr's preschool recently raised three pavilions of butterflies, and during this time some lovely friends gave the young man a Butterfly Garden of his own. Once we were confident that the weather was suitable for releasing butterflies outside, we followed the instructions in the package to order our larvae online. Three days later, the postman rang our doorbell with a little box and said curiously, "Um, this parcel says 'Live Caterpillars.' I didn't want to leave it in your mailbox."

The brilliant thing about Insect Lore's set up is that there's very little one has to do (and so, very few ways to mess it up). The caterpillar larvae live in a little cup that has air holes and a quarter-inch of food at the bottom. When they arrived, they were about this long: ----.

Within two days, they looked like this (------------).

Within seven days, they looked like this:

caterpillars

And then three of them climbed to the top of the cup, attached themselves to the disk of paper and turned into chrysalises. We were a little worried about the remaining two caterpillars, but the next day they followed suit. The little bit of caterpillar remaining outside each chrysalid turned out not to be their disembodied heads, as I feared, but rather just their shed skin.

I carefully removed the paper from the cup and transferred it to the mesh house. For several days we waited. And then we went away for the weekend, leaving the chrysalids in the capable hands of Bald and Effective, who must have sung little songs of encouragement to them, for when we returned, three Painted Lady butterflies were happily sucking on orange slices and flying around the mesh house.

butterfly

By the next morning, all five butterflies had emerged. We observed them for a couple of days, recorded the finer points in Apparently Jr's field notebook and fed them sugar water and orange slices. And then last night we walked them to a nearby park and opened up the house to set them free. Much like at preschool, the butterflies were not terribly interested in leaving. But we coaxed them out and placed the most reluctant ones on a tree, and after considering the merits of our leafy neighborhood, each eventually flew away.

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