Pinto Bean Burgers

These veggie burger patties are delicious, but don’t hold their shape that well out of the pan. The solution I’ve found is to tuck them into pita bread pockets for an easy hand-held meal.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic; saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, along with the pinto beans; mash with a potato masher.
  3. Whisk together the flaxseed and water, and add to the pinto bean mixture, along with the breadcrumbs. Stir until combined. Note: At this point you can store the mixture in the fridge until ready to shape at cook the patties, which makes it a great make-ahead option for busy nights.
  4. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Divide the pinto bean mixture into six portions, shaping into patties, and add to the skillet. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

Funnels & Tubes

A few simple items were all I needed today to engage Veronika in great water play, no fancy water table required. To set up, I simply set out a bin filled with water and asked Veronika what color we should make it. She requested blue!

I then set out a funnel, as well as two lengths of tubing. The latter were about 1 and 1/2 feet long and 1/2-inch in diameter. (Note: you can get these for mere pennies at a hardware store, cut to size).

Although my original intention was for the tubing to fit over the end of the funnel, Veronika was completely untroubled by the fact that they stayed unattached. She could fill the funnel and then watch the blue water trickle down.

She used it to fill the tubes, or to let it rain right down on her hand.

She also enjoyed filling the tubing directly from the basin, then lifting it up to watch the water slosh back and forth before dumping it out.

Pretty soon she decided that a few toys needed to take a bath. “They’re in the tub!” Veronika said with delight.

It was her idea to go trotting over to our marble run set and bring pieces over. I didn’t even realize she’d done so until I heard her call out, “It turns green!”

Sure enough, the yellow plastic in the blue water made the water appear greenish. She tried other segments, including a wheel that could spin when she poured the funnel over it.

Thanks to a towel underneath to catch any drips, this was fantastic water play with easy clean-up to boot.

Outdoor Obstacle Course

A gorgeous spring day was the perfect chance to test all those gross motor skills in the backyard. For this game, we pulled out just about everything we could think of, including the following:

First up was a slide to climb up and go down.

Next, I stretched a jump rope between two cones for the kids to hop over.

Next, we arranged stepping stones (we have a great set made to look like turtle shells!) in a wavy line.

This area was by far the biggest hit of the whole set-up, and the kids often just played back and forth along the “turtles” for a while!

Next they had to land in hula hoops…

…before crawling through our play tunnel. At the end were a few pool noodles to jump over.

The kids loved completing the course, then racing back to start it again!

We ended the day’s “competition” with an Animal Run relay game! Place stuffed animals in a pile in one hula hoop (or similar target area).

Each kid picked a stuffed animal and placed it between their knees, then made their way to a second hula hoop to drop it down.

First one to clear all the animals in his or her pile wins!