My son tells me he’s thrilled for school to begin. Mind you, he’s a 7 year old; I know this plaint will change over time. I, on the other hand, dread the beginning of the school year. I am loath to let go of the slower pace of summer, of light, of warmth, and I fear not completing my summer “to-do” list.
Yes, I have a list (well, paragraph actually) that goes something like this:
Pack a picnic, go on a hike or try camping for an inexpensive getaway (even if it’s in your own backyard). Spend a day at the beach, pick through shells and let sand run through your fingers. Take a stroll through a forest or nature preserve; stop and study the creepy-but-cool insects along the way. Listen to bullfrogs croak and the singing of cicadas and crickets. Watch fireflies dance. Road trip down a long stretch of highway with the windows down and the wind whipping through your hair; extend your arm out the window and let it ride the wind current. Watch Mother Nature’s wide screen—a panoramic, multi-colored sunset. Visit your local farmer’s market and taste a summer ripe tomato. Hunker down with a chunk of watermelon and have a seed-spitting contest. Eat an ear of corn on the cob. Help your kids set up a lemonade stand. Run through a sprinkler. Skip stones across a pond.
You get the idea. It’s about spur of the moment little moments. Like the other day: We called some friends, packed a lunch, and went for a hike around a nearby lake. For a dessert I had tossed together odds and ends. I popped popcorn with sugar (this took less than five minutes) and then mixed with mini teddy bear crackers, mini marshmallows (both leftover from making Popcorn S’Mores), and yogurt covered pretzels. It took no time and the kids loved it, as did the parents.
Here’s the original version we created not long ago. Use the food coloring for a pop of color; eliminate it if you’d rather. Either way, you’ll enjoy these as you finish your summer to-do list.
Teddy Bear Picnic Mix
Yield: about 12 cups
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
5-6 drops pink neon liquid food color, or color of your choice (optional)
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 cup mini pastel marshmallows
1 cup mini graham cookies (teddy bears)
1 cup white fudge covered pretzels
1 cup mini cookies (iced circus animals, or any mini cookie)
- Stir oil, sugar and food coloring together in a large pot (with a tight-fitting lid) over medium heat. Stir in popcorn kernels; cover. Cook over medium heat until popcorn begins to pop. Shake pot over heat until popping begins to slow.
- Remove pan from heat and pour popcorn into a large bowl. Add marshmallows, teddy grahams, pretzels and cookies and toss lightly.