The People in the Trees–Book Review

I am an avid reader and I am always updating my “to read” list with recommendations from various sources. I mostly read fiction and love a good historical thriller from time to time, especially art historical thrillers (for example, The Swan Thieves). From FB or blog suggestions by authors I follow, to the website, to a 6 month old copy of People magazine in the doctor’s office waiting room, when something catches my interest, I make a note on my phone, scrap of paper, etc.

I always opt to add books to my online library queue, so I don’t necessarily remember the original source of a recommendation, or even why I  wanted to read it in the first place…it could be months or even over a year before I finally get around to checking the books out from the library, especially if it is a new publication (for example, Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch. Have you seen how big it is? There’s no telling how long it will take the 12 people in front of me to read it!). The downside to my library queue is that once a book is returned, the record is erased and it’s up to me to remember the name and/or author if I want to recommend it. So I have decided to add an occasional review to this blog as both a way of remembering really great reads and sharing them with a bigger audience. For ease of finding any books mentioned herein, I am including a link directly to Amazon. I have nothing against e-books, but my preference will always be old school physical books.

As with any work of art, you may love it or hate it, but an emotional response one way or the other is better than indifference! Without further ado, my first recommendation is The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. This is the fictional tale of a Nobel Prize-winning doctor’s historical narrative to a colleague and the story is so detailed and compelling, I kept wanting to pause reading it to Google the various characters and places that were so richly described as to seem truly real.

The story follows the somewhat unremarkable career of Norton Perina from childhood, to medical school, to lab work, to an unlikely invitation on an anthropological expedition to Micronesia. The book presents a setting antithetical to western culture and mores and explores what happens to such an idyll when exposed to western influences. If you have ever read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude and been enchanted by the “magic realism” of the environment, the remote jungle setting of The People in the Trees will likely appeal to you. But the story is more complex than the effects of westerners on paradise and poses probing questions for the reader’s consideration, such as “If a great man does unspeakable things, is he still a great man?”* The epilogue, the logical conclusion of Perina’s narrative, will leave you re-thinking everything from mankind’s continuous search for immortality, to the ethics of scientific studies, to societal norms of “acceptable” sexuality.

I look forward to hearing what you think of the book (or any others referenced here). Happy reading!

*quote from the book jacket.

Pinterest Lies!

So I planned an amazing Lego-themed party on Pinterest for Jack’s birthday when I was on sabbatical. Luckily, I had it all figured out in my head AND on paper (ok, technically, electronic paper), so even though I was working when his b-day week rolled around, I figured I could get it done easily based on my superior planning skills.

We did have the “vision” to make our party favor crayons well in advance, but that was mostly due to Jack’s eagerness to use a knife for chopping crayons.

lego crayon man 1

It took a while to chop, melt, cool, and de-mold the crayons, and we lost about 50% of the mini Lego man figures per batch due to them not completely coming out of the mold, so as usual, it took much longer than I had originally planned, but at this point in time, the party was well over a month away, so no worries!

Keepers on the right, broken men on the left:                                      lego man crayons       

crayon army:       lego man crayons 3

crayon army casualties   lego man crayons 2

Aside from that one advance-made bonus, I ended up doing EVERYTHING in the 24 hours prior to the party, while my husband looked on like I had lost my mind yet again. Fortunately, Jack is old enough, and interested enough, to want to help, and I had even made a list of things he could do, which included, among other things, all things related to the party favor bottle cap necklaces (from cutting out the circle images we would be ModPodging into the bottle caps, to cutting the thread into necklace lengths, to hot gluing the little jewelry bails on the bottle cap for the thread to loop through),

 bottlecap necklaces

to party favor goody bags with foam circles attached by two-sided tape to make them look like Lego bricks,

lego goody bags

to drawing faces on the square yellow plates, to cutting string cheese to make little circles for Lego crackers (this was totally a stroke of genius while waiting in line at the deli counter; I was thinking I would just get a brick of cheese and somehow manage to cut a million little circles when I realized I could cut string cheese…finally, my love of all things cheese pays off! And of course, he HAD to say, “look, mom, I’m cutting the cheese!”), to writing little menu cards in his best Lego Chima font. It was awesome…see for yourself:

Lego party spread

Put I am here to say that Pinterest lies. I pinned this Chi-colored rock candy, thinking, two ingredients, one of which is water, plus food coloring…how hard can it be (famous last words)? This is another recipe that calls for a candy thermometer, so of course it was doomed to fail from the get-go.

chi rock candy   This is the pinterest pic, not mine. I dissolved the corn syrup in water and added the magic gel-based food coloring that took me 20+ minutes to find at Michael’s until it was the perfect Chi hue. It bubbled and boiled for a good while and, not wanting to scorch it, I poured it into a foil-lined jelly roll pan, just like in the original pin (ok, they did not line their pan with foil but I am all about the easy clean up). To further speed things up, I stuck it in the fridge, figuring that would make it harden faster. Or not. It was basically like Chi-blue-colored corn syrup, so we named it the “Sacred Pool of Chi” and called it even. By the time the party started and we had everything out on the table, we ran out of room so I discreetly pitched it…no muss, no fuss.

However, all prior candy-making attempts aside, the biggest Pinterest lie was these chocolate-covered marshmallows designed to look like Lego heads:

:  lego heads

On the above-referenced trip to Michael’s, I set out to find yellow candy melts and a black icing pen. I got to the (slightly intimidating) candy/cake aisle replete with all of the terrifically complicated-looking cookbooks with misleading names like Hello, Cupcake! Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make to Wilton cake pans designed to make any aspiring baker hang up his or her apron.


Have you ever tried baking a 3D cake? Years ago, when I was young and naive, I bought this duck shaped pan to bake an adorable duck cake for a rubber duckie-themed baby shower I was hosting for a friend.


This was my goal; luckily this was before digital cameras were ubiquitous, so you’ll just have to use your imagination to envision how horribly sad my duck cake turned out to actually be. HINT: even your worst mental picture is probably not nearly hideous enough.

As for the candy-coated marshmallows…dip a marshmallow in melted chocolate and put it on a stick–how hard can it be, right? I am starting to feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy continually tricks him into trying to kick the football.

Charlie Brown and Lucy with football

So there I am in Michael’s, looking for yellow candy melts. They have EVERY color you could think of, except, you guessed it, yellow. They have sea foam green candy melts, and cherry red candy melts, and even chocolate brown candy melts (um…forgive my lack of candy-making skills, but couldn’t you just use, y’know, regular chocolate for brown?), but NO yellow. There wasn’t even a space where maybe yellow candy melts had been but someone else on a marshmallow Lego-head-making frenzy bought them all up leaving an empty space to let me know yellow candy melts had been within my grasp. Ok…I am a reasonably smart girl, I can figure this out. I purchase two bags of white candy melts, knowing I have yellow food coloring at home. BOOM! Take that, non-existent yellow candy melts and, by extension, me for not actually having clicked on the original pin to maybe find such helpful tips out.

So, into a pot on the stove they go, but they aren’t melting quite fast enough for Jack, Mr. Impatience himself, so I move them to a microwaveable bowl and zap them for a minute or so. I take a spoon to help facilitate the melting and for a moment, all is right with the world. Then Jack squirts a couple of drops of food coloring in and I continue to mix…and…it seizes up like bright yellow cement. I think the problem might be that is isn’t hot enough (I never claimed to be good at science), so back into the microwave it goes, only to become even harder if that is physically possible (maybe I am on to a new kind off synthetic diamond here!). Good thing I bought two bags of melts. I actually read the directions this time around and see that anything added to the melts will basically ruin it. Duly noted.

lego marshmallow heads 3

I decide to try and outsmart candy-making science (never a good idea), and melt the chocolate and add just a teeny-tiny bit of food coloring. Not exactly smooth enough to dip the marshmallows in, but definitely spreadable like think frosting. Good enough.

lego marshmallow heads 2

lego marshmallow heads 1

I added some smiley faces with the black icing, stuck them in the fridge, and filed this experience under Pinterest lies. Or I suck at candy making. Maybe a little of both.

lego marshmallow heads

A Clean Fridge is a Happy Fridge

So I decided to clean out the fridge, which inspired me to utilize the mish mash of random ingredients on hand before venturing out to re-stock the fridge and fill up all of that newly available shelf space. I even cleared away the forest-full of mostly obsolete schedules, expired coupons, and other paper items that have accumulated under our fridge magnet collection in the past couple of months.

And voila! Look at all of that empty space just begging to be filled up! Of course, I quickly realized that I put the drawers in wrong, so there is actually a small shelf now available under them, which I have decided to use for thawing meat items rather than go through the trouble of taking them out and correcting the situation.

clean fridge

And the super clean, brand-spanking-new-looking front! Of course, there are a number of important items that need to live in this location, so I simply moved them to the side of the fridge where they are a little less visible to kitchen visitors who perhaps don’t care about Jack’s karate class schedule or summer reading program rewards coupons.

clean fridge 2

I inventoried what I had against a stack of recipes I have been wanting to try, and made a list of just a few things I needed to make the most of what was on hand.

One of the first things I tried was Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe for banana ice cream, as I am pretty much the only one in the house who eats bananas, banana ice cream, banana cream pie, you name it. It called for Almond Milk, which I have never tried, but decided to in this instance so I could make the recipe…besides, I had a coupon!

The additional topping  of chopped almonds mixed with maple syrup and sea salt really made this extra delicious…so good in fact that I decided to have a second helping, which was decidedly not a good idea when I went for a run an hour later with all of that sloshing around in my belly. Verdict: Absolutely easy once you have the supplies on hand (i.e., almond milk and sliced, frozen bananas), but you really should eat it as soon as it is made because it freezes too hard to eat later. Plus, the almond milk is really good on cereal, less calories than my usual skim milk, etc. Bonus!

Whenever we head downtown Savannah, my son loves to stop by River Street Sweets for a praline sample (or two, since I usually give him mine). If you’ve never had a praline, it is a butter-y, sugar-y, delightful little sugar-high-inducing treat. But at almost $3 per praline (they are sold by weight), and only 4 ingredients, all of which I had on hand, I decided I would try making some myself. Of course, I only had about a half cup of cream on hand, so I ended up having to do some math and half the recipe.

NOTE: This is the first of three attempts (more on the other two tries later) at cooking something that needed a candy thermometer that I thought I could wing without one. Apparently, recipes call for specific tools for a reason, as I have no idea what the “soft ball” stage of cooking is, but figured if it was bubbly and gooey and smelled delicious, I was getting close. I didn’t want to overcook or burn it, but apparently it wasn’t quite done. I dropped them onto waxed paper and let them cool. They were good, but they weren’t transcendental, like those made on site at River Street Sweets. And you’d better believe my candy snob son did not think they were a worthy substitute. I guess I will continue to pay the premium for someone else making them and hope that maybe Santa will being me a candy thermometer for Christmas.And, yes, I realize these pictures make them look ever less-appetizing, but they were all eaten before bedtime, so they weren’t all bad.

homemade pralinehomemade praline 1

Then I decided to get really creative and make ravioli! I had made pasta from scratch years ago in a cooking class at the museum where I planned such events for our members and knew it was pretty simple (again, 2 ingredients! How wrong can it go??). So I mixed up some flour and eggs and rolled it out:

homemade ravioli dough

Then I used up all of the random bits of stuff I had leftover: some ricotta cheese, some frozen spinach, some pine nuts, and parmesan cheese (in the green can, we are not fancy), and threw in some crushed red pepper because I just love that kick it gives everything.

homemade ravioli stuffing

homemade ravioli 2

They weren’t the prettiest pasta I’ve ever eaten, and in fact the dough was a little thick so I should have rolled it out even thinner, but overall, I was pretty impressed with myself!

homemade ravioli 1homemade ravioli

And of course, no pasta dinner is complete without freshly-baked bread! I used the bread machine cook book for the recipe and let the machine do the mixing, then rolled it out to proof, then simply baked it.

french bread 2    french breadfrench bread 1

The house smelled amazing, and I managed to not burn the bottom while having uncooked dough on the inside like I have in the past…it was delicious! The down side was that we were completely out of butter and is there anything better than bread hot from the over slathered with butter? I could’ve sworn I still had a pound of butter in the freezer from the boatload I picked up at Sam’s, but apparently not. Naturally, when I picked some up the next day, at the more expensive store than I usually stop because it was right next to karate so I didn’t have to make a detour en route home, I discovered the last pound of Sam’s Club butter in the freezer. Lesson learned? Cleaning out the fridge is great for organizing meals, but not when you skip the freezer and have an iffy grasp of what lurks in the frozen kitchen netherlands.

Next up, a fancy-dancy, ladies-who-lunch kind of salad reminiscent of one of my fave spots in KC, Eden Alley. I threw together the last of spring greens salad mix, leftover wild rice (crazy!), the remaining half of a peach that Jack vetoed, some blue cheese crumbles (I try to have blue cheese and Frank’s hot sauce on hand at all times for when I crave buffalo chicken, which is pretty often), the last of the pine nuts (I even took a minute to toast them since this was no ordinary lazy girl lunch but a fancy salad), and tossed it all with a little bit of peppery Greek dressing (bottled…I am the only one eating this salad, so no need to be a total overachiever and make it from scratch. Besides, the point is to clean out the fridge, so in using the bottled dressing, I am one step closer to finishing it off). The verdict? Amazing! I even took the time to sit at the table, with a napkin, and enjoy it, as opposed to many of my consumed standing up/in front of the tv/in my car meals.

toasting pine nuts for homemade raviolipeach salad with rice

While walking the dog, I happened upon a fig tree in a vacant lot, so naturally, I liberated a handful before the birds could get them. A little leftover French bread, a drizzle of olive oil, and the last of the blue cheese and I had a snack worthy of a chichi bistro with sky high prices!

fig feta bruschetta

Then I made a couple of recipes that I had pinned. No pics, mostly because mine wouldn’t be nearly as pretty as the original posts. The baked sweet and sour chicken was a little scary in the making…dredging chicken in corn starch and then dipping them in eggs is not as easy as it sounds and I had to stop and scrub all the gooey stuff off my hands a couple of times so I could actually use my fingers and the whole cooking-with-ketchup thing had me grossed out (I hate ketchup…love tomatoes, marinara sauce, salsa, cocktail sauce, but hate ketchup. When I worked at the Wheel at KU we had this big industrial bag of ketchup that I had to refill the individual ketchup bottles from and I don’t think I ever recovered from it.) but everything came together in the oven and was delicious! We had a friend over for dinner and he wasn’t sure if he should be pleased dinner was so good or worried that we served him an untested dish, essentially making him a guinea pig.

.ketchup dispenser

I also whipped up some Spicy White Bean Dip, which I actually bought sriracha sauce for because when I used to eat at Blue Koi in KC, they had amazing lettuce wraps and won tons and I would douse them in sriracha until I was practically crying from the heat. So I thought this would maybe be a little like that. Except it wasn’t. The sesame oil was too overwhelming…I think I might try it again but substitute Frank’s buffalo sauce for the chili sauce, skip the sesame oil, and top with blue cheese crumbles. I’ll keep you posted on how it works out.

Jack has a new favorite phrase, “rub some bacon on it.”

Mine would be “put some Frank’s buffalo sauce on it and add a little blue cheese. sriracha

Childhood Influences, Then and Now

Thinking about Jack’s expressions and gestures from his favorite tv shows like Lego Chima and Regular Show has me remembering the two big influencers from my childhood, The Preppy Handbook, and, almost conversely, the Valley Girl book, which in my humble opinion, led directly to the inability of my generation to speak a sentence without using the filler “like” several times. I can still recall my teachers cringing and impatiently correcting us: “Were you like late for class or were you actually late for class?”

They also made a Valley Girl movie:

Click on the movie link above for the best line in the whole movie: when Nicolas Cage is taking movie tickets, smoking while he works and wears 3D glasses. His ex girlfriend (the Valley Girl) comes in with another guy who asks if the movie is in 3D and Cage responds, “no, but your face is.”

And of course, Frank Zappa sang the song:

Which is not to say that I didn’t love watching the Brady Bunch every day after school, or reading anything and everything by Judy Blume (or even V.C. Andrews when I was a little older, although probably too young to have been reading such smut). But I guess my point here is how wired everything about Jack’s childhood is. We did away with cable in favor of Netflix streaming, much to Jack’s chagrin as they do not show Lego Chima episodes (YouTube does, but not current enough for his taste), and he is a pro at navigating the site to add shows to his queue. He even has his own laptop at school, and his 2nd grade school supply list included a flash drive and blank CDRW disks. Despite all of this, he still spends a good amount of time actually playing with his Legos, combining them in new ways every day, creating bigger and better vehicles and battles of the good guys vs the bad guys, regardless of whether they are ninjas, aliens, Chima animal tribes, or any other character, which I love to see.

It is so weird to be of the age as a parent when I remember being Jack’s age and can look back to see how so much of what happened then shaped who I am today. Many of the friends I made when I was his age are still friends 30+ years later. Tyler and I find ourselves saying things like, “When we were your age, cartoons were only on Saturday mornings,” which to Jack’s 24/7-Netflix-streaming, internet-connected mind must be barely comprehensible. Digitally speaking, he can watch what he wants when he wants to (assuming parental permission, of course!). This makes me think of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka, whining “I want an oompa loopma NOW, daddy,” which is a line we frequently chime at Jack when he gets a little too focused on wanting something that can wait, like yet another Lego toy.

Acid Rain Vs. Chalk

Our last experiment from the Geology Rocks! book was on acid rain:

acid rain 1 In just skimming the picture, I thought we were going to somehow sculpt a person to use as our guinea pig, but in reading the actual items needed, this was a piece of chalk…I don’t know about you, but my chalk-carving skills are not such that I could make such a 3D, sculpture-in-the-round version of a person, especially wearing a hat! Plus, this was obviously made from a chunky piece of sidewalk chalk and all we had on hand are the small pieces of colored chalk I use to write grocery reminders on our kitchen chalk board. So here is my masterpiece of paper clip carving:

chalk dummy See the face?? I scratched in some stick figure arms and legs, too, but you can’t see them from this view. The book said to use “any” chalk from your local hardware store, as long as it was made from gypsum. Well, I looked but there was no ingredient list on our box of chalk, so I figured we were good to go.

We mixed a little water with some vinegar to simulate the acid of acid rain. Once again, we were without a medicine dropper, so we improvised with a drinking straw:

and now for the acid rain

readying the acid rain

After watching the chalk for a few minutes and seeing that nothing was happening, we poured the rest of the acid rain solution on the plate and waited.

Nothing. Apparently our chalk was not made from gypsum after all. Based on this experiment combined with trying to make our own chalk, I am making a mental note to stay away from chalk-based activities from here on out.

Summer Camp Then and Now

As I kid, I can only recall going to summer camp once, at the park district. I remember being forced to jump in a freezing cold pool in the morning and making crappy arts and crafts in the afternoon, like covering a bottle with scraps of masking tape and then coating the entire thing with brown shoe polish in a lame attempt to make it look like some kind of ancient artifact. Here is a modern-day example from Pinterest which, although light years better than the one I made in my youth, is still not something I would choose to make/admit to making/display in my home as an adult, so the fact that they are still being made makes me wonder at the longevity of this particular craft. masking tape shoe polish bottle craft

I also seem to recall “sculpting” an ash tray out of clay, although I don’t recall if it was for one particular parent or both, since this was after all the 70s and everyone smoked with abandon. My mom used to call ahead to the Park N’ Shop and give us money to pick up a gallon of milk and some smokes for her and we got to keep the change to play video games…ah, the carefree 70s.

So you can imagine my amazement when Jack went to a week-long art camp sponsored by the City of Savannah’s Cultural Affairs Department and made art running the gamut from textiles:

stuffed dog this is a stuffed version of Jack’s dog, Krypto

to clay:

three headed monster this is a monster with three separate heads. The piece in the background is the house that Jack fashioned for the monster to live in

lizard necklace this is a lizard necklace

dino fossil and die this is a dino head fossil and a die with little 3D bits of mineral for the digits on each side

stepping stone and finally, a garden stepping stone that I was informed was “too valuable” to actually use in the yard and risk being stepped on.

They also used traditional media like oil pastels, paint, and of course, glitter:

sand dollarsthese are sand dollars

oil pastel drawingand this is simply a cool drawing

2D stepping stonethis is a 2D template for the stepping stone using torn paper in the style of Matisse

artist trading cardsand these are artist trading cards they made, although since these were all made my Jack, I don’t think he found any other young artists worthy of trading with.

shrinky dink necklace and finally, a Shrinky Dink necklace with his name on it–can you think of a better way to wrap up? Oh! Perhaps some performance art? Because each group practiced a little play based on a different Disney movie. Jack’s class did Alladin and guess who got to be the genie? That’s right!

genie jackhe had already taken off his sweet purple vest when I snapped this pic, but you can still make out the mustache and purple face paint. Summer Camp Success!

DIY Play Dough, Candy Caves, and Volcanoes

In my last post about DIY Chalk, the article also includes a recipe for DIY play dough, but I used a different one that I found on Pinterest. Of course, I need to start actually pinning things and not just writing them down…I scribbled a note to myself with the ingredients for homemade, no-cook play dough, but when I went back to Pinterest to find it a few days later, of course I couldn’t! So my apologies for not giving the pinner his or her due props, but this is the recipe I used:

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • food coloring
  1. Mix water, salt, oil, and food coloring.
  2. Mix flour and corn starch and add a spoonful at a time to the wet ingredients, stirring constantly until you get the consistency of pizza dough (or, duh, play dough–this is my comment, not part of original recipe)

When I searched play dough recipes on Pinterest again, I couldn’t find one specifying corn starch…most used cream of tartar instead. But I’m here to say that the above recipe worked just fine, with the following caveats: I was out of vegetable oil so I used olive oil…no problems there (I guess if you are not planning to eat the recipe, oil is oil). My box of corn starch was all but empty from the great chalk-making extravaganza (see above link) , but on the bright side, I found the tablespoon that had been missing since that debacle…it was in the box, which is probably why I put a virtually empty box back in the pantry, as the added weight of the tablespoon inside made me think it had corn starch in it!

The recipe says to mix the food coloring in with the wet stuff, which I did, but then decided I wanted it more red and tried adding additional food coloring after I had mixed the dough and it really didn’t make any difference, so if you’re like me and tend to skip a step or think you can just combine stuff randomly because you are super lazy, be sure to at least adhere to that particular instruction.

The reason we made play dough wasn’t to actually play with it in the usual sense, but rather to use it for two different science experiments from the book Geology Rocks. The first one was Candy Caves, whereby using sugar cubes, play dough, and a a few other household items, you can replicate how water in the earth seeps into tiny cracks in rocks and dissolves them slowly over time:

candy caves

First, we gathered our supplies: sugar cubes, a clear glass, play dough, a toothpick, and some water. The book called for a medicine dropper to drip the water, but we improvised with a drinking straw and the bonus physics lesson of how you can put your finger over one end and suspend the water:

candy cave supplies

quality control First you stack the sugar cubes around the bottom of your glass. Jack had never seen or tasted a sugar cube, so naturally he had to perform some quality control maneuvers prior to working with them. Once they are stacked, you cover them with play dough and then poke holes in the play dough with a toothpick:

aerating the play dough

After that, you use your dropper or straw to slowly add water and watch as it works its way through the holes in the play dough to the sugar beneath:

candy cave 2 You can still make out the spaces between the play dough and the sugar cubes to the left and right but below the sugar cubes were all dissolving into one big slab:

candy cave view from below

So there you have it, Candy Caves was easy to pull together and the lesson about the power of water erosion was readily observed and applicable to other daily observations about rain, tides, etc. And the best take away is that Jack uses the “straw trick” to entertain himself whenever we go out to eat now!

The second experiment calling for play dough was a Volcano (something I have yearned to do since I was a child and watched Peter on the Brady Bunch make one erupt on Marcia and her snooty friends):

Once again, we gathered our supplies (yes, this is a different tablecloth than the above pics–thanks for noticing!):

volcano supplies

The book suggested an empty salad dressing bottle, but we improvised, substituting a small, empty water bottle, placed in the center of a baking pan and then covered with the play dough:

volcano instructions theirs vs ours:

volcano aerial view

Once your volcano is finished, use a funnel to pour in 1/4 cup baking soda. I used a chop stick to help get it through the funnel faster, we always seem to have a random supply of those around the house. Add a squirt of dish detergent on top of the baking soda. Then mix 1/4 cup vinegar with a few drops of food coloring, add to the volcano and…

making the volcano

….and…you get a little vinegar reacting with the baking soda and fizzing up in the funnel. No big explosion, nothing foaming down the sides of the mountain, plenty of time for the people below to evacuate their homes, nothing like the cool picture in the book. Perhaps the fact that the baking soda in question has been in my freezer for, oh, I am going to go out on a limb here and guess at least several years now (I think I read somewhere that it lasts longer if you keep it there vs the ‘fridge?) was the problem? I may need to refine my scientific methods…

So there you have it: surprisingly enough, Candy Caves were way cooler…I guess slow erosion beats not-really-explode-y stuff every now and then…plus they have candy in their name, so there’s that.