Lego Weekend Build: Carousel

My last post was about the Booster Bricks subscription we bought our kids for Christmas. It is not just a box of random Legos though. The box includes challenges as well as an online Facebook group to participate in: weekly challenges, builds, and games.

This past weekend’s challenge was to build a Lego Carousel. Two of my boys, Matthias and Ian, worked pretty hard on it so I thought I’d post about it here.

For Christmas, we also bought our kids one of the largest Technic sets currently available: The Bucket Wheel Excavator. At almost 4,000 pieces, this is a huge set. We have to confess that we bought it mostly for the pieces. My boys used some of those pieces in their Carousel, which is why it looks a bit skeletal.

Matthias and Ian used a medium motor to power the Carousel. The gear assembly is pretty simple. The circular yellow pieces form a large gear.

You can see the gear and motor assembly inside the walls in the picture above. The switch is located outside the walls.

The Carousel sits on the small gear attached to the motor as well as 3 flagpole pieces that help keep the Carousel level but still allow it to rotate.

I was really proud of my boys for keeping at this build. They had no instructions and only a little bit of help from Josh. He helped them figure out how to downgear the motor so the Carousel wouldn’t spin too fast.

Here is a quick video of their Carousel in motion!

They didn’t mess with the design element too much but that is ok with me. I’m more interested in their learning the mechanics of it. Design can come later!

-Lynn

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Lego Booster Bricks Box subscription

For our kids’ Christmas present, we bought them a 6 month subscription to a Box of Legos that is delivered once a month, usually near the end of the month. Lego Booster Bricks is opening their monthly service to new subscribers tomorrow so I thought I’d do a quick post about it.

Here is a link to their website and an opportunity to join their waitlist:

Booster Bricks info and waitlist

I will summarize the subscription here though if you’d rather get a quick overview and information from personal experience.

What is it? Booster Bricks is a monthly subscription to a Lego membership that includes a monthly box of Legos.

How many pieces are in the box? The box comes with around 250 pieces. Keep in mind that these are not usually new Legos. They are cleaned and sanitized though so they look almost new. The fact that the Legos aren’t new also means a chance of receiving rare Lego pieces that are difficult to find. You also receive at least one minifigure and minifigure accessories.

How much does it cost? You can choose a monthly subscription for $25.95/ month plus $7.45/shipping and handling, a six month subscription for $22.95/month plus $7.45/shipping and handling, or a twelve month subscription for $19.95/month plus $7.45/shipping and handling. We decided on the six month subscription to see how we liked it.

That seems like a lot of money for a box of Legos! Is it worth it? The interesting part of this Lego subscription is not just the box of Legos! The box also comes with building challenges for your kids. You can take pictures of their creations and enter them in a random drawing for even more Lego prizes. You also have access to Occasional Flash Deals through the Booster Bricks Club Facebook group as well as daily and weekly Lego build challenges and various contests with Lego prizes. We haven’t won anything yet but it is fun to enter the contests! You choose how much or how little you want to be involved.

Josh and I like that this is not a subscription to a Lego set but to a set of random pieces. This means our kids build using their imaginations instead of a manual of instructions. Both ways of building are fun though!

I am not sure yet if we will be renewing our subscription but most likely we will! We plan on posting more about our Booster Brick builds and boxes but I wanted to publish this before their opening tomorrow in case anyone wants to try it out!

Booster Bricks information

-Lynn

Where Have We Been?

It has been a loooong time since we’ve posted! I think our last post was Josh’s blog about Johnny Sacks cabin from our Solar Eclipse trip in August.

So what happened to us? Quite a few things have turned our household upside-down since August.

Number One: I started homeschooling our kids in September 2017 for the current school year. I was using a different approach than our 2016-2017 school year, which basically means I had no idea what I was doing! I made the switch from a streaming video-based curriculum to a literature-based curriculum called Sonlight.  Since the new curriculum meant sitting down with my kids and actually teaching, which is definitely not a bad thing, I had no time for my baking. This is why I haven’t posted any baking posts in 7 months.

Number Two: We had a baby! Gavin Joshua was born December 28, 2017. He’s made our lives a little bit crazier since he was born, but we can’t imagine our family without him. Being a family of 8 isn’t that much different from being a family of 7, but it did mean having to buy a larger vehicle. We went all out and bought a 12-passenger Ford Transit. It makes me feel like I’m driving a bus but there are definitely less arguments about personal space amongst our kids!

Having a new baby also means very little baking (or even cooking). I was able to bake scones this past weekend and three weeks before that, my last bake was a batch of brownies! Josh has actually been taking care of most of the cooking. I firmly believe that his being able to be home for the past six weeks is the main reason I haven’t gone totally mad yet.

Now that life isn’t quite as crazy as it has been, we want to get back into posting to The Geek Homestead. We can’t guarantee that we will post regularly, but we will do our best to write interesting posts.  Thank you so much to those of you who take the time to read this! We also look forward to getting back to reading our community’s blogs.

A very much belated Happy New Year to everyone!

 

San Diego County Fair 2017: Where The West is Fun

Last year, I didn’t have a chance to write about the San Diego County Fair itself. So this year, I decided to take as many pictures as I could while we were there and write about our favorite parts! I will try to write about the Zucchini Race in a separate post. Hopefully, I will get to it!

Because we were “exhibitors,” we were able to enter through a different gate that had no line to get into the fair. That alone is one of the big pluses of entering the Zucchini Race every year!

After checking in at the agricultural building with the boys’ zucchini cars, we walked around to look at all the different displays located in the area.

We always seem to come to the fair during chicken week. So those were the small animals on display this year.

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I’m afraid these displays of chickens are what got us started on eventually wanting a chicken coop!

This is the hydroponics display. It is different every year. But it is always beautifully set up.

After the races at 11 AM, we head out into the main part of the fair. We always gravitate away from the all the rides and carnival games… but there is one thing you just cannot avoid: Fair Food!

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Somehow, we always end up at Chicken Charlie’s. This year’s interesting offering: A Krispy Kreme fried chicken ice cream sandwich…

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The menu at Chicken Charlie’s!

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Meet the Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger. It doesn’t sound like it should taste good but it does! It tasted so good that the kids ate it all up and didn’t leave any for Josh! It is kind of expensive ($10.99 for one), which is why we only bought one and all seven of us shared it.

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The fair special for our sides: french fried onion rings, fried zucchini, and chicken tenders. Lots more of the fried zucchini than anything else… and only Josh and I liked it. Silly kids don’t like their veggies even when they’re deep fried!

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One of many ice cream vendors at the fair. The signage here is always a little bit overwhelming!

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I still remember coming to the fair with my parents and my brother when I was a teenager, and getting frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate on a stick. I should have gotten one just for old times’ sake. But Corran and I really wanted funnel cake instead. The rest of the family got ice cream.

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Our favorite part of the fair: The Garden Show! Josh likes to walk through here and get ideas for our yard.

Since this year’s theme was the Old West, the displays weren’t quite as vibrant as in past years. I still loved them anyway.

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I love this part of the garden show! It is called the Children’s Garden, and we take our kids here every year. They have different activities for kids about eating healthy, and learning about fruits and vegetables. They even get to go home with a small plant. Last year, we came home with a few tomato plants and they gave us so many yummy cherry tomatoes! This year, the kids came home with bell pepper plants and beefsteak tomato plants.

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The kids digging for gold nuggets so that they can each bring home a plant! Gwen LOVED this activity. She has always enjoyed playing in the dirt. There were also craft activities on the other side of the garden, like coloring and making a ladybug out of egg carton pieces.

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I love to walk around and look at all the plants on display in the children’s garden. There are fruit trees, berry bushes, and all sorts of raised beds full of edible plants.

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I had to take a picture of this flower rainbow. Just lovely.

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One of the many peaceful displays at the garden show. So inviting!

 

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My kids loved this model railroad display. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to set this up!

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Another annual visit to the Gem and Mineral Show in Mission Tower. Every year we come here to look at rocks. This is Matthias’ favorite place. He has always been our family rock hound.

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They have these grab bags for sale every year too! The kids always enjoy opening up their bags when we get home to see what interesting rocks or fossils they received. Two of my kids also got a free polished rock from the vendor. Gwen held tight to hers for the rest of our day.

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I had to take a picture of these small animal carvings! They really are very tiny!

Our next stop was the home and hobby building, which is right next door to Mission Tower. We had never actually been in here before, but I’m glad we were able to this year! It is full of collections of different objects: rockets, disneyland pins, quilts, matchbooks, Star Trek memorabilia, even fake plastic food. If you can collect it, it was probably here! The baked goods competition was also here (my secret reason for wanting to come take a look). I am considering entering next year.

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This was a fun collection! Packing Peanuts!
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This right here is one of the reasons we come to the fair. You happen upon these jewels of activities that you just were not expecting! Each of my kids was able to make a marble out of polymer clay and take it home to bake it until it was hardened. They were so enamored with the process of making these that we had a hard time keeping them away from their clay marbles once they were done designing them. Josh and I are considering having this as a little hobby for the kids.
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Say Bye to Ian!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our trip to the fair. I know that there are no pictures of the rides, but they would have been quite expensive for all the kids to ride everything (although some years we have gone on the rides and they are a lot of fun too!). Usually for our family, the fair is a place to learn and still have fun!

-Lynn

Quick looks at past posts…

For a few days at a time, I will be stickying various posts from the very beginning of our blogging journey. Some of these posts will be from 2015! I think you will see a big difference between our posts then and our posts now.

Don’t worry though! We will still be writing new posts. If I have a chance this week, I will be hopefully be writing a post about our day at the San Diego County Fair this past Saturday. And I think Josh has a post planned about orange sorbet!

 

-Lynn

Lego Star Wars Days at Legoland California

Every year, if possible, we attend Lego Star Wars Days at Legoland California on Saturday. It is one of the highlights of our year and we had been looking forward to this year’s Lego Star Wars Days for a few months! We were not able to attend last year since we did not all have membership passes.

Click here for more info about Lego Star Wars Days

This is definitely a geeky post so feel free to skip if Star Wars is not your thing! This post will also be mostly pictures.

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This year’s banner at the main stage near Miniland was great. I really liked the Death Star logo. This is where most of the contests for Star Wars Days takes place: Jedi Trivia, Family Build Challenge, and Costume Contest.

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After taking a quick ride through the Lego Ninjago ride, we went to the Model Shop Rooftop, which is also very close to Miniland. Usually, when we go to Lego Star Wars Days, we don’t really ride many of the rides. We are off having too much fun being Star Wars fans! The Model Shop Rooftop is where you can pick up some free goodies: this year’s giveaways were a poster, two pop badges, and a pin.

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For the droid hunt, you walk around Legoland, usually near the Beginning or in the Star Wars Miniland area to find a costumed member of either the Rebel Legion or the 501st to “catch” you. This year and the last year we went, we were caught by members of the Rebel Legion I think. They will say to you, “How long have you had these droids?” Usually, we just smile widely and say, “We’ve been looking for you!” Then they put the red ribbons over our droid hunt ribbons and give us each a raffle ticket for a 4:30 PM drawing for prizes.

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There were also two contests to enter at the Model Shop rooftop, one was a drawing to win a piece of Star Wars artwork, and the other was to guess the number of Lego bricks used to build a full-scale R2D2.

The highlight of our visit to the Model Shop rooftop though is the fan gallery. Star Wars fans and Lego fans bring their own creations (called MOCs) to display.

We were able to talk to two MOC creators and we were so impressed with their models that we went and bought two power functions motors to play with at home! It helped that I had a 15% off coupon to use at the Big Shop.

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I LOVED this Lego Star Wars Ferris wheel. We are also big fans of the Star Wars Rebels (minifigures on Ferris wheel left side) cartoon series as well as the Freemakers (minifigures on Ferris wheel right side). Can you find Grand Admiral Thrawn on the Star Wars Rebels side?

Isn’t this carousel awesome? Poor Chewie is probably not enjoying waiting his turn.

We also picked up our Scavenger Hunt entry forms at the Model Shop rooftop. The Scavenger Hunt is always fun for the kids.

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One of the questions from the Scavenger Hunt entry form: How many Y-wings are in the battle around the Death Star? Answer: Zero! Because X-wings are cooler, and Y-wings are slow (sorry to any Y-wing pilots out there).

We also got to see the newest Star Wars Miniland addition: the planet Jakku and Kylo Ren’s Star Destroyer The Finalizer.

Another highlight to our day: seeing the 501st and the Rebel Legion walking around in costume. Of course, we took their pictures and also had our pictures taken with them.

The most impressive costume to me: Kylo Ren’s.

We haven’t had the kids enter the costume contest for ages 12 and under for a few years, but we always enjoy watching it at 4 PM. This year’s contest was hilarious. Kids say the craziest things!

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This year’s three winners were 3rd place – General Grievous, 2nd place – Lego minifigure Emperor Palpatine, and 1st place – a probe droid. You can see the prizes they won on the platform.

After the contest, they had the raffle for the tickets we received during the droid hunt. We didn’t win, but there’s always a chance!

We had a blast at Lego Star Wars Days 2017! Hopefully, we will be able to make it again next year. Until then, may the Force be with you!

 

 

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Scones

I have a confession to make: I use our blog as a place to store recipes! So I often refer back to my old posts to bake a certain flavor of scones or figure out a macaron recipe. Sometimes, a post will just be a reference for me so that I can find a recipe again. That is likely what this post will be. Perhaps later, I will be able to improve on these scones to really make them pop. I am thinking maybe some cinnamon chips or a cinnamon brown sugar filling.

There is nothing very spectacular about these cinnamon scones, but they are definitely yummy if you like cinnamon! I baked these for an order but wanted to have two types with glaze and two types without glaze. Sadly, these cinnamon-y scones ended up being the unglazed ones. I think they could be brought up a notch with some vanilla glaze though!

I have been baking scones a LOT lately, but that is okay. I’ve been baking different flavors of scones and I am getting to where I can probably start making the basic scone recipe from memory!

I do plan on making July macaron practice month though if I can. So expect a lot of macaron recipes at that time… if I can get my macarons back to where they were before the new oven that is!

cinnamon scones

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Scones

  • Servings: 16 servings
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Vanilla glaze

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-5 tsp milk/water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl; flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat pieces with flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Fold everything together just to incorporate as much of the flour as possible; do not overwork. When you have shreds of dough, pour the dough out onto a floured surface and finishing working the dough into a ball there.

Pat the dough out into a rectangle. Using a bench knife, cut the dough rectangle in half, then each half in half. Cut down the middle to form 8 squares and then cut each square on the diagonal to form 16 triangles.

Transfer each triangle to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, leaving an inch or two of space between each wedge. Bake for 12-17 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool completely before drizzling with glaze.

Stir together the powdered sugar, milk/water, and vanilla to make the glaze. Add a teaspoon of milk/water at a time until the glaze is desired consistency. Drizzle over the cooled scones.